It nestles on one’s tongue so pleasantly, but lingers on one’s breath so villainously. A first date “no-no”, garlic is a common ingredient in many recipes, which can take on either a subtle, sweet, or strong flavor.
Garlic is in the lily family; it’s a cousin to leeks, chives, onions, and shallots.
The finer that garlic is chopped, the stronger the taste; crushed garlic provides the strongest taste. Garlic cooked whole has a milder, rather sweet taste. If it’s added toward the end of cooking, it will produce a stronger flavor, which permits it to mellow.
Raw garlic, has the greatest health benefits, because heat and water inactivate sulfur enzymes and take away the antibiotic effects of garlic.
Finally, ancient writings indicate that garlic was used as an aphrodisiac in India and as currency in Egypt.
Not only does garlic add a one-two-punch of flavor, but it also has a health benefit. Garlic is known to boost immunity and fight infection. It was used during both World Wars to help prevent gangrene.
Our garlic paste, plays several roles in cooking. Nearly as versatile as salt and pepper, it can flavor oils, soups, and stews, be added to salad and sauce, used on breads, meats, and poultry and in endless other dishes.
We’ve always loved tomato paste’s versatility and its sunny flavor. A thick distillation of fresh tomatoes, whether added to vegetables or sautéed for a sauce or stock, mixed with liquid and simmered in a stew, or stirred into a soup to give it body, tomato paste lends depth and sweet notes, depending on the stage of cooking at which it is added.
We learned that this everyday ingredient has its roots in ancient methods of food preservation. In the kitchen history “Pickled, Potted, and Canned” (Simon & Schuster, 2001), author Sue Shephard explains that people have been making pastes of fruits and vegetables, by means of dehydration and cooking, at least as far back as the days of the Roman Empire, when bumper crops of grapes promoted cooks to develop a thick grape spread called saba. In regions where tomatoes were abundant; the advent of tomato paste wasn’t far behind. In her 1954 book Italian Cooking (Penguin), Elizabeth David writes that before canned foods became common, Italians routinely put up their own paste by leaving tomato sauce to dry in the sun, until it reached the “colour of dark mahogany and the consistency of stucco”, at which point olive oil was added and the paste wrapped in paper, to be used throughout the winter in sauces.
Providing that good things don’t always need updating, the California chef Paul Bertolli, in his book Cooking by Hand (Clarkson Potter, 2003), documents a nearly identical ingredient – called estratto (strattu in Sicilian dialect), or extract – that he encountered while living in southern Italy. There, he watched local families prepare jars of estratto each summer by cooking chopped tomatoes with salt and olive oil, straining them, and spreading the mixture on large wooden platters, where it would “season” and dry for six days in the hot sun.
Tomato dishes ‘may protect skin’
Pizza and spaghetti Bolognese could become new tools in the fight against sunburn and wrinkles, a study suggests. A team found adding five tablespoons of tomato paste to the daily diet of 10 volunteers improved the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays. Damage from these rays can lead to premature ageing and even skin cancer.
The study, presented at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology, suggested the antioxidant lycopene was behind the apparent benefit. This component of tomatoes – found at its highest concentration when the fruit has been cooked – has already been linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.
Now researchers at the Universities of Manchester Newcastle have suggested it may also help ward off skin damage by providing some protection against the effects of UV rays.
After three months, skin samples from the tomato group showed they had 33% more protection against sunburn – the equivalent of a very low factor sun cream – and much higher levels of procollagen, a molecule, which gives the skin its structure and keeps it firm.
“The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin ageing process,” says Professor Lesley Rhodes, a dermatologist at the University of Manchester. “These weren’t huge amounts of tomato we were feeding the group. It was the sort of quantity you would easily manage if you were eating a lot of tomato-based meals.”
There was a warning however that tomatoes should be viewed as a “helpful addition”, rather than an alternative to sun cream.
Dr. Colin Holden of the British Association of Dermatologists said; “While the protection offered by lycopene is low, this research suggests that a diet containing high levels of antioxidant rich tomatoes could provide an extra tool in sun protection”.
To Use our Tomato Paste:
Our Napoleon Tomato Paste has a sunny taste, and is double-concentrated, with a vegetal character, and adds depth to soup stocks.
1 Tbsp of Napoleon tomato paste = 1/4 cup canned tomato sauce.