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The Great Garlic Challenge: 10 Things to Make with Costco’s 3-lb Bag of Garlic

You hit the garlic jackpot – now what? We’ve tracked down plenty of recipes for all that garlic.

Sliced garlic and red chilis in oil in a frying pan
Preparing the garlic and chili-infused oil for gambas al ajillo, AKA garlic shrimp

Who doesn’t love garlic? Whether minced, roasted, or infused, it’s delicious! Unfortunately, when you buy a 3-pound bag of peeled garlic at Costco, you’re racing against the clock to figure out how to use it before it goes bad. Not to worry! The Bikes and Butter community has come to the rescue with a full range of recipes for all that garlic!

Large 3-lb bag of garlic sold at Costco
The culprit: a 3-pound bag of garlic from Costco

When we recently bought a 3-pound bag of garlic, at first, we were super excited since the garlic comes peeled and ready to go. Then we freaked out about how to not wind up with a bunch of garlic that had gone bad and been thrown in the compost bin. We have been trying really hard to use up what we buy since it’s bad for the environment and for your wallet to waste food.

And as for the great garlic challenge, the savvy folks in the greater Bikes and Butter community have some fantastic ideas on what to do with all that garlic. Here they are:

#1 Make oven-roasted garlic and garlic-infused oil:

Making oven-roasted garlic with a whole head of garlic is relatively easy. However, when you’re starting with peeled garlic, it’s a little different. With peeled garlic, you roast the cloves in an olive oil bath. Here’s a recipe for Roast Peeled Garlic from Good Cheap Eats. While this recipe calls for red pepper flakes, if heat is not your thing, simply skip this ingredient. One thing you may want to add is salt. I added some after the fact and will try this next time with salt to enhance flavor and allow for the seasoning to take place while the garlic roasts. Cook’s Illustrated has a similar version of this with its Garlic Confit recipe. This recipe calls for just olive oil and garlic. I like the approach along the lines of the first recipe wherein you add salt, herbs, etc.

#2 Bake garlic bread (no, not the kind you buy at Safeway that is a really cheap loaf of white bread with garlicky butter on it):

Garlic Ciabatta Bread: About a decade ago, we picked up this marvelous cookbook: My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey. This book revolutionized bread-baking for the home cook. Without any expertise in baking or bread-making, you could suddenly make amazing bread. Here’s a video with Jim Lahey showing Mark Bittman his famous no-knead technique of making bread (note: the video is from 2006, so the production quality is just ok). Here’s an article with the basic No-Knead Bread recipe. I used his ciabatta recipe from the cookbook and added garlic. The ciabatta recipe is slightly different in that there is no whole wheat flour, you for the dough into 2 loaves instead of one, and instead of using a Dutch oven to cook the bread, you use a loaf pan turned upside down and a pizza stone below. That being said, you could probably just add garlic cloves to Jim Lahey’s standard no-knead bread recipe and it would be tasty too.

Focaccia: As I mentioned in my post on cooking inspiration, Samin Nosrat’s recipe for focaccia is delicious! And it’s easy to play around with this recipe and add rosemary, garlic, or a variety of other toppings. We placed some garlic into the dough and rosemary on top just before baking and it was great! We had some of dad’s fresh rosemary on-hand, and I had been wanting to make focaccia to take advance of this. You can find Samin’s recipe here.

Note: you may want to cut the garlic cloves in half if they are really large.

#3 Make a killer chicken dish:

Why should the bread have all the fun? You can make a delicious main dish and use up a lot of that Costco garlic!

One of our friends suggested Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. This recipe looks like a wonderful fall dish as it also has Cognac, white wine, and fresh thyme. We envision eating this with candles on the table and/or in front of the fireplace. Yum!

Another main dish is Chicken Vesuvio from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. According to Wikipedia, this dish is a Chicago specialty made by generations of Italian-Americans. This dish features browned chicken thighs and browned potatoes that are braised with white wine and a lot of garlic. This is another hearty fall dish and pairs nicely with a dry white wine. Note: while ATK is one of my go-to sources of cooking inspiration these days, I often increase the garlic and heat (i.e. red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chilis) beyond what’s in their recipes. They’re based in Boston and I’m from the West Coast. Enough said.

#4 Make a Spanish-inspired garlicky shrimp dish:

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp is another tasty way to work through that big bag of garlic. We started making a version of this after going to a fun tapas restaurant in Amsterdam about 10 years ago. You heat and infuse the oil with garlic, remove the fried garlic, then cook the shrimp in the garlicky oil. The natural sweetness of the shrimp goes well with the salty garlic flavor. This garlic-infused oil is so delicious when you dip crusty bread into it!

You can use the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen if you subscribe, otherwise, here’s a version available for free on The Spruce Eats.

Note: while many recipes call for adding dried chilis or red pepper flakes to oil – with the garlic – you can skip this if you prefer a less spicy rendition.

#5 Make pesto:

While there are many kinds of pesto, Basil Pesto is a long-loved favorite. It’s a paste made with fresh basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts (although I’ve used pistachios when pine nuts were outrageously expensive). I grew up with my dad making pesto from basil plants he grew. Thankfully, his basil plants are prolific, so he harvests enough basil to share some homemade pesto with us. We love this with fresh pasta made with our old Atlas Mercato pasta maker – but that’s another story.

Here’s a recipe for basil pesto from Simply Recipes. Note: if you like lots of garlic (like me!), you can add more to taste. The big here is that you have a food processor to make this. There are tons of other varieties of pesto besides basil pesto and they’re featured in a new book I’ve been eying, PESTO: The Modern Mother Sauce.

#6 Make a fancy garlic-infused butter:

Cook’s Illustrated (sorry, this lives behind paywall) has a nice recipe for Garlic Confit Butter. See here. Basically, you take roasted garlic, smash it up, and mix it with butter, parsley, and salt.

#7 Make pickled garlic:

We heard that pickled garlic is tasty and a good way to make use of extra garlic. We love pickled foods, so why not? This recipe for Pickled Garlic from Culinary Hill looks relatively easy and fun. According to Meggan Hill, the creator of the Culinary Hill website, “if you love pickles and you love garlic, this pickled garlic recipe is super simple to make and keeps in the refrigerator for a few months! Enjoy pickled garlic on charcuterie boards, salads, or with hummus and tapenade. Or add it to tuna salad! Pickled shallots and homemade sauerkraut are great too.” Note: per Meggan, pickled garlic is *not* suitable for shelf-stable canning; instead, the pickled garlic needs to live in the fridge.

#8 Make kimchi:

While hunting down a recipe for japchae, a Korean noodle dish, I found Maangchi, a famous Korean food blogger and YouTuber who’s been described as the Julia Child of Korean cooking. She’s originally from Korea but has lived in New York City for a while. She has a whole section on Kimchi recipes on her website.

#9 Try cooking a Filipino dish:

At long last, Filipino cuisine is finally getting its due. Recently the New York Times published this: Angela Dimayuga’s 10 Essential Filipino Recipes. There was also a recent spread in Bon Appetit magazine featuring Tom Cunanan, the famous chef/owner of Bad Saint in Washington, D.C., and some of his recipes. We enjoyed the Spicy Pork Skewers recipe. Plus, from this recipe, I learned that Sprite can be used to make more marinade without diluting it as water would. I really wanted to make Chef Tom’s Grilled Shrimp with Palapa recipe, but it’s impossible to find anyone who sells shrimp with the heads on.

#10 Add minced garlic to everything (well, not everything, but almost everything):

Whip up a great marinara sauce with whole-peeled tomatoes (buy them whole and chop them at home), minced garlic, dried basil, and a pinch of salt. You can also use minced garlic to top roasted vegetables.

And if you still have garlic left, try freezing it #11 (bonus item):

This method from Feel Good Foodie actually calls for making a garlic paste in your food processor, then freezing it.

Now that you’ve got plenty of ideas for all that garlic, I wish you many wonderful garlic-filled meals with friends and family. Happy cooking!

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