I have known only one person in my life that has ever uttered the phrase “that’s too much garlic”. Yes, I’m still friends with them.
Garlic breath (like onion breath) is often a concern, but if everyone eats it, then it all evens out in the end! In the world of Greek food, you will be hard pressed to find a recipe without either one, or both. Perhaps this is one of the keys to the long life many Greeks enjoy? Actually, it is! The group of plants known as alliums have been linked to reduced cancer risks, so, seriously, eat lots of garlic and onions. Lots of them. Skordalia (skor-thal-YAH) can help you do this.
Though this dip is used as a condiment for many Greek recipes its biggest claim to fame is as a side-dish for bakaliaros (fried cod) that is the traditional food served on Greek Independence Day. Think of it as the stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey. Would you really have one without the other? If so, I don’t know that I can be friends with you (but I probably can).
There are three traditional ways in which skordalia can be prepared, either with a base of potatoes, bread, or nuts (usually walnuts). I’m a much bigger fan of the bread version, so that’s what I have here. The debate as to which is better is almost as intense as the Twilight series debate of “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. I guess if you’re a garlic fan, you’re “Team Jacob” (or like me, you don’t care!).
Skordalia (Greek Garlic & Bread Dip) Recipe
- white bread like Italian or French (though regular white bread will work), crusts removed and set aside, bread torn into 1 inch-ish sized chunks
- 6 large cloves fresh garlic, sliced
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- salt to taste
After removing the crusts, quickly and lightly drizzle water over them and set them aside. This is to allow the water to soften the crusts but without getting them completely soaked. If your bread is very dry, do the same to it. If any of your bread pieces are dripping with water, squeeze out some of the excess. You want it damp enough to soften, but not soaked. Your bread chunks plus crusts should total approximately 4 cups before any water is added to it.
The old fashioned way of making this would be to beat the crud out of everything with a mortar and pestle. It’s a good workout, but I’m going with the food processor. Add all the bread and garlic to the processor bowl fitted with a sharp blade. With the processor running, dribble in the vinegar, then the smaller amount of the olive oil. Allow the processor to run until the bread is completely pulverized. If the mixture is still somewhat dry feeling, add the remaining olive oil. Really, don’t worry about there being too much, because what’s wrong with extra olive oil?
Continue running the processor and start to dribble in the water in a slow stream. You could do this one tablespoon at a time. There is no set amount that your skordalia will need, because it will differ so much based on the bread used. You want to aim for a texture where the dip is moving smoothly in the processor and isn’t dry. Sorry, I can’t get more specific than that! Often the best indicator is how the mixture moves with the blade. At first you will see it oscillating where there is more mixture in one location and then as you add more water it suddenly smooths out in the work-bowl evenly. That’s about the point you want to stop adding water, with maybe only a tablespoon or two more.
At this point you can taste it to see if you want a little more vinegar or water, but keep in mind the flavor will change and intensify. Add salt as desired. It would be best if you set it aside at room temperature for at least an hour and check it then. There’s no problem with re-blending it with more of any of the ingredients. Serve this as a condiment at room temperature with vegetables, seafood, meats, or a spread for bread and crackers. Or just eat straight out of the bowl (but maybe wait until no one is looking!).