From the laurel tree
You may be familiar with the bay leaf, a long, pointy leaf of the laurel tree that is used to flavor soups and stews.
This small leaf is popular in Mediterranean cooking, and has a sharp, bitter taste.
Keep in mind that the leaf should always be removed before serving.
-Use in homemade tomato-based sauces, such as pasta sauce and pizza sauce.
-Add to soups and stews for extra flavor.
SPLIT PEA SOUP
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced* (optional)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup split peas, rinsed and sorted
5 cups water
2 teaspoons good quality salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 bay leaf
Instructions for Split Pea Soup
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add water and bring to a boil. Add split peas and simmer until slit peas form a smooth soup. Add salt, bayleaf and basil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove bayleaf and serve.
-Add 1/2 to 1 cup evaporated milk to finished soup.
-Add chopped carrots and celery to soup with the seasonings and simmer until vegetables are lightly cooked, but still crisp.
-Add 1/2 cup brown rice to the boiling water first, then after 1/2 hour add split peas and cook until peas are tender or form a smooth soup. Add seasonings and simmer for 10 minutes. (Note: The brown rice completes the protein of the legumes.)
*A head or bulb of garlic usually contains about 10 cloves. 1 clove = 1 teaspoon chopped garlic = 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes = 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic = 1/2 teaspoon garlic juice
As always, to get the most benefit in both taste and nutrition, be sure your spices are fresh and, whenever possible, use fresh herbs rather than the dried versions.
-When you buy fresh garlic, be sure to pick bulbs that are firm and not sprouting. The papery outer skin may be white or purple, but should be unbroken and free of discoloration.
-Garlic keeps best in a cool, dark place and when stored in an uncovered or loosely covered container. If stored correctly, fresh garlic can last for several months or more. Once you break open the bulb, however, the shelf life will shorten.
Cooking with garlic for good health
-When a recipe calls for garlic cloves, start by separating the number of cloves you will need from the bulb. Then peel the skin off with a knife or by hand. It should be loose and easy to remove once it is broken.
-Chop or crush the garlic on a cutting board and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, before adding it to your recipe, in order to get the most benefit from the phytonutrient, allicin, one of the health-giving components of garlic.