Frozen garlic, herb cubes &mdash timesavers from a Negev kibbutz

Here is a terrific product that will support Israel’s economy and at the same time make your life in the kitchen easier: Mini plastic cube trays of crushed garlic, pureed basil and pureed parsley are available in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s by way of Kibbutz Dorot, which is near the Gaza Strip.

Although they are frozen, their flavor and aroma are very fresh and they have a freezer shelf life of 18 months. I’ve been hooked on these time savers for the last few years and every time I would introduce them to my students, there would be a run on this item the very next day that would leave TJ’s shelves bare.

Imagine preparing a soup recipe that calls for 10 cloves of garlic, minced. Remove the cover of the mini tray and just pop out 10 sections into the pan. Need some chopped basil or parsley? Forget knives and food processors. Again, just pop out and you’re set to go.

An article in the Jan. 24 issue of Jerusalem Report magazine reports that Dorot Garlic and Herbs, started as a cottage industry, has now grown into a thriving enterprise with annual revenues of about $7 million. Kibbutz Dorot is Israel’s largest garlic grower and the largest kibbutz in the northern Negev, founded in the 1940s.

The new enterprise began as a kibbutz member’s idea for converting below-standard-sized heads of garlic into a business by crushing and then freezing them.

“Crushing wasn’t just a way of finding a use for the garlic,” the member said, “It also released allicin, a compound responsible for its pungent aroma and taste.” A few samples were sent to restaurants and the rest is history.

Chicken With Garlic and Capers | Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper
4 Tbs. olive oil
4 Tbs. dry white wine
2 Tbs. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or 4 frozen cubes)
2 Tbs. capers, drained

Between sheets of plastic wrap slightly flatten chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons the oil over medium high heat. Sauté chicken about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm. Add the remaining oil, the wine, lemon juice, garlic and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in capers and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken.

Garlic-Herb Soup | Serves 4-6

4 1/3 cups water
6 garlic cloves, crushed (or 6 frozen cubes)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. chopped basil (or 2 frozen cubes)
2 Tbs. chopped parsley (or 5 frozen cubes)
1 egg yolk
6 slices of French bread, lightly toasted and brushed with olive oil

Bring the water to a boil. Add the garlic and salt and boil for another 5 minutes. Add the herbs.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the herbs to steep for about 10 minutes.

Blend the yolk with some of the cooled broth, then stir it back into the soup to thicken it.

Place the bread into the soup bowls, pour the soup over the bread and serve immediately.

Mustard-Garlic Vinaigrette | Makes about 3/4 cup

1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 cube frozen and thawed)
1 tsp. finely chopped parsley (or 1 cube frozen and thawed)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients together until well blended. Use on your favorite salad greens.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” She can be reached at [email protected].