Small, pungent and packed with nutrients, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants. It was used in ancient China, consumed by Greek and Roman soldiers, and was said to have been greatly prized by Egyptian pharaohs.

As well as vitamin B6, manganese, selenium and many other nutrients, Garlic contains allicin. You might not have heard of it, but we have allicin to thank for garlic’s strong pungent smell and also many of its health benefits. It has been used extensively throughout history to treat infections and minor ailments, and today’s scientists are researching its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels and even cancer.

Adding a clove or two will enhance many dishes, but these five recipes give garlic the starring role it deserves.

  1. Sopa De Ajo. Translating to garlic soup, Sopa De Ajo is a simple and rustic dish found throughout Spain. There are many regional varieties, but garlic, eggs, bread and paprika are always included. A quick and easy recipe that deserves to find its way onto your dinner table, just make sure you adequately count the carbohydrate BLOCKs.
  1. Lemon and Garlic Puree. The longer you cook garlic, the mellower the flavor. In this recipe, the garlic gets a gentle poach in milk for 30 minutes so don’t be afraid to try this delicious puree with cooked meats or add a dollop to soups, stews and salad dressings.
  1. Spicy Eggplant, Tomato and Garlic Salad. Otherwise known as Zaalouk, this dish isn’t a green, raw salad but a cooked dish along the lines of ratatouille. Serve for dinner with quinoa then keep the leftovers for the next day with vegetables and whole wheat pita bread.
  1. Garlic Green Beans. Use this recipe as a blueprint for cooking a whole host green vegetables – spinach, asparagus, broccoli, we can’t think of a green veg which wouldn’t work here! If you want to ramp up the flavors even more, you could even add some fresh chili.
  1. Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Skewers with Toum Garlic Sauce. You’ll find Toum on tables across the Middle East but it’s not for the faint hearted! You’ll need between one and three whole heads of garlic to make an authentic Toum. Serve with these cooling (but still garlicky) yoghurt chicken skewers.

After one of these recipes you might want to chew on a little parsley or drink some peppermint tea to help freshen your breath. Do you have any top tips with garlic? Tell us in the comments!