1 Aug 2013

A Garlic Crush

Garlic Crush - Vicki Archer

It’s years since I had my first garlic crush… and I don’t mean the little gadget that squeezes out all that delicious goodness… I mean a crush on fresh garlic… the violet and grey bulbs that are stacked in every Provencal village market and vegetable shop at this time of year…

Fresh garlic bunches  are like floral arrangements… they are so colourful and textural… I want to touch them, inhale their pungent scent and even arrange them… My favourite styling shot of all time in, My French Life was of fresh garlic bouquets in our kitchen.. All these years later I still arrange them in exactly the same way… Like the lavender and the sunflowers, fresh garlic is part of our summer…

Cooking for me has to be simple… it’s all about a great taste, an easy preparation and fresh ingredients… I’m not a clever cook… I care too much about the visuals… I prefer to spend my time making the table pretty than creating complicated menus… This doesn’t mean that undemanding recipes aren’t wonderful… They are.

In Provence it’s easy to create fabulous meals, especially in the summer, because the ingredients are so enticing… and garlic is on the menu every day…

Fresh garlic and chilli are a perfect combination with pasta… and thanks to Bill Granger, a brilliant Sydney chef, I use his inspiration over and over…

Here is what you need

for 4

 several fresh cloves (3 or 4 depending on size) chopped into fine pieces

 two or three fresh chillies chopped into small pieces ( i leave the seeds because i like the bite… without, the chilli will be much milder)

 good pancetta… a couple of handfulls cut and cubed

a big bunch of rocket leaves (arugula) roughly chopped

finely grated parmesan cheese… a generous cup

extra grated parmesan for garnishing

penne pasta or spaghetti… depending on your preference… 500g, de cecco is my choice

olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper


Here is the how

boil the water, salt it and add a dash of olive oil to avoid the pasta from sticking

the pasta should take about 10 minutes so while it’s cooking

pan fry the pancetta until crispy and set aside

mix the garlic and chilli together and fry in a little olive oil until golden… (this is super quick so watch carefully) and set aside

when the pasta is al dente… add the chilli and garlic, mix in the pancetta and the parmesan cheese

add a good dollop of olive oil and at the last moment mix through the rocket leaves

sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Serve immediately in individual bowls and add extra parmesan to taste…

And that’s my garlic crush… xv


the best of bill granger   de cecco penne   le saunier de camargue sea salt   pillivuyt shallow round pasta bowl   

and to display the fresh garlic… a pair of these milk glass plates would look gorgeous…


VA In Your Inbox

subscribe for updates from vickiarcher.com



You are so right Vicky! Same happened to me few days ago, I am in the middle of the garlick crush :)


Hi Vicki,

Simply divine, my mouth is watering! How on earth have I missed this recipe? Provence really must be heaven on earth!

Cheers, Kathy xx


500 g, Vicky!!! I think this is not only for you? Ha… Apart from the smell which is always uncomfortable for others but I use also much garlic every day in my cooking and hope I don’t dislodge somebody.


I drew an illustration of a bunch of garlic once and loved how it turned out! The lavender tint added so much to this painting!
The recipe sounds delish Vicki!

2013 Designer Series

Anita Rivera

Good morning dear Vicki! Thank you for visiting my post but I want to comment on this wonderful post:


While in Provence and on the train up toward Avignon, we met up with a lovely Frenchman who had a treasure of garlic just like these you feature. We enjoyed speaking to him about what he was going to make that evening and I will never forget the image of seeing this fabulous Frenchman on the train, with his beloved garlic bouquet. We have it every night almost, in Italian-inspired to Spanish dishes. I think I will study your recipe here to try before our summer comes to an end.

Wishing you a bright and delicious day! Anita

D. A. Wolf

I’m a garlic gal from way back… Love it fresh in so many recipes! (I admit to nibbling on garlic-stuffed green olives last evening…)

Once upon a time, I even wrote a garlic sonnet (as part of a dare in a writer’s group). Now I wonder where those fragrant couplets may hide! In some long lost recipe perhaps.


Any dish with garlic and pasta is a true joy. The addition of chilies and arugula will make it divine! Reading your post this morning has inspired a plan for this evenings dinner. Who could resist with those beautiful violet bulbs gracing the page!


Hi Vicky,

I’m glad you mentioned your book in this post. I’ve been trying to find it online, but Amazon doesn’t have any new copies in stock. Can you suggest where I might be able to find it?
thanks so much!


If you click on the ‘new’ books there are plenty of sellers there… It is still probably the easiest and quickest way to get a copy… xv

Elizabeth Eiffel

The colourful displays of masses of garlic cloves and plaits that greet the shopper in Provence are particularly appealing………as is the taste of this magnificent bulb. In Australia, we now grow our own at our weekend retreat and then plait it to store ion a hook in our kitchen. Miam, miam. Warm regards.


De Cecco pasta is the best. My favorite garlic preparation is roasted whole bulbs–each in a small crock, or clustered in a medium crock–covered with olive oil. Use the garlic infused olive oil to sautée fresh spinach. Then, squeeze freskhlemon juice over spinach. Cover your hand with a plastic bag and squeeze garlic cloves from roasted bulb on top of spinach. Finish off with freshly grated Parmesan. Perfect.


This is a different recipe and I am going to try this. I was so happy to hear from you Vicki, sounds like you are living the life.
Maine is getting fall like weather, when the Sun is out it is fabulous. Have you heard about that 3-d gun? They can take it through airports..Some times I can’t believe the news, it sounds like another world..
best wishes to you ,yvonne


I wish I could read yours, Esther… but I can see that we are on the same wave length … :)

miss b

My garlic crush definitely began during my year in France several years ago. I learnt many tips watching my French friends cook such as rubbing a peeled garlic clove (or two!) around a gratin dish etc. I have parmesan, pancetta and chillies in the fridge and of course plenty of garlic so I’m ready to make your delicious dish!

Betsy Reinert

Vicki, my husband and I want to rent an apartment in Paris in late September for a week. What websites would you recommend? love your blog.


‘First chop the onion & garlic’ I always seem to start every meal with that little mantra. You know I love it when you channel Martha – that goat cheese & roasted tomato tart of yours still gets a run here at The Hedge every couple of months.

There has been huge controversy Down Under for a couple of years about the provenance of garlic. Most of what we see says ‘A product of Mexico’ which is quite ridiculous really. Obviously Aussie farmers just can’t be bothered, which makes me sad.
M xx

Caroline Newton

Hi Vicky, I put a little story on Facebook but thought you might not read it so thought I would mention it!! Caroline Newton


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

powered by chloédigital
Read previous post:
Thought You Might Like To See