Since my darling and I share a love of garlic, I decided to prepare an all-garlic tasting menu for Valentine's day. While this might not be the first choice for a romantic dinner menu for most people, for us it was perfect.
We start with a trio of toppings for a nice loaf of ciabatta:
Garlic-infused olive oil: gently heat olive oil in a pan, with a couple of roughly smashed garlic cloves. I declared it done when I dipped a piece of bread in, and it had a subtle garlic flavor.
Roasted garlic: chop the top off a garlic bulb, so that the tops of the cloves are exposed (peel away excess paper from the outside). Place on foil, douse in olive oil, and seal the foil around it. Bake at 400 for at least an hour.
Herb-garlic tapenade: mix together the following: chopped fresh basil, parsley & mint, a few cloves of minced garlic, minced capers, zest & juice of 1 lemon, salt & pepper, and then add enough olive oil to coat.
White bean & garlic soup (recipe here). I garnished with chopped chives and a drizzle of the garlic oil.
Roasted tomatoes with garlic: Cut plum tomatoes lengthwise in thirds, place on a baking sheet, season with salt, pepper & dried basil. Top with very thinly-sliced garlic, and drizzle with garlic oil. Bake at 400 for about an hour.
Shrimp with garlic-white wine sauce: heat pan with garlic oil, and sauté shrimp and sliced garlic (season with salt). Take the shrimp out when it's done, but leave the garlic. Add white wine (I used sauvignon blanc), and simmer until it reduces. Then stir in a squeeze of lemon juice, pat of butter & chopped fresh parsley.
Sautéed spinach with garlic: heat garlic oil in a pan, and add sliced garlic. Just before it starts to brown, add the spinach and wilt. Season with salt, pepper & a pinch of red pepper flakes. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Strip steak with garlic-red wine sauce: heat pan with just about a TBSP olive oil. Season both sides of the steak with salt & pepper, and cook to your liking (I prefer pretty rare). When the steak is done, take it out to rest (cover in foil to keep it warm), and add red wine to the pan (I used syrah). Scrape up any delicious meat bits from the pan, and bring the wine to a simmer. Add minced garlic and rosemary. When the wine has reduced, stir in a pat of butter, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Spoon over the meat.