Monday, May 18, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Garlic Gold - & Recipes for Garlic Lovers!

I am a complete and utter garlic fiend. I don't know what I would do without garlic... food just wouldn't be the same. Whether or not you actually like or dislike garlic, it is pretty ubiquitous in every kitchen. I'm pretty sure that once everyone moves into their very first apartment, and stocks their very first pantry, salt, pepper and garlic powder rank pretty high on the list of essentials.

But sometimes, no matter how delicious, garlic starts to seem a little bit common place. A bit drab, boring and unremarkable. And once you've eaten your share of garlic gems like roasted garlic and pickled garlic, it can be really hard to make everyday garlic seem special again.

Really hard, but Garlic Gold seems like they're on a mission to make garlic special again, with handcrafted, gourmet garlic products. I never thought I would find an ingredient or cooking additive that would renew my affection for garlic. We'd had our torrid love affair and were moving into the seven-year-itch stage. Quite honestly, I had just considered moving on to something exotically new and exciting like Asafoetida just to shake things up a little.

So when I got a chance to review a giftbox from Garlic Gold, I was excited, but frankly not expecting to be blown away or anything. I mean, its just garlic, right?

But when I received my gift box in the mail, my heart skipped a beat. I got really excited! The item had weight. I've gotten gift box selections of products from many companies where you pay a pretty penny and receive very parred down, kid sized portions of their products. This gift box includes full sized products.

Another thing that surprised me was that the gift box set was beautifully packaged. If you are sending this as a gift, no worries about extra gift wrapping... the company's packaging really does fit the bill. I felt like I had received a real treat!

I also was really impressed by the fact that even with gift packaging, the materials were minimal and all recyclable or reusable. Very fitting for a company that claims to focus on sustainability. I was really pleased to see they carry that value into their packaging.

The gift box came with four organic products: The namesake Garlic Gold, Garlic Gold Nuggets (Sea Salt), Garlic Gold Oil, and Garlic Gold Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette.

I love that all the products are organic and have zero preservatives. Our family shops about 90% organic, and we try our best to keep our kitchen organic.

Organic condiments and seasonings with simple ingredients are generally really hard to find, so I was so happy reading the ingredients list for these products.

Three or less ingredients for all except the Vinaigrette which had seven and no added sugar. Nice!

Garlic Gold is the original flagship product taken from a coveted family recipe created by the father of Garlic Gold's founder Orion Brutuco. Orion took the much loved recipe and turned it into a real business as part of an entrepreneurship project with three of his high school friends in 2002. They started selling in California farmer's markets, and a star was born. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the gold.

The original Garlic Gold is little tiny bits of toasted garlic packed in high quality, first cold-pressed olive oil. Being the namesake product, this was the item I was most excited to try when I opened the packaging.

When I popped the top, the first thing I did was take a good smell... definitely some garlicky goodness in there. It was strong but not overpowering. Then I dipped a little spoon in to get some of the toasted bits out.

Now maybe it's just me, we all have our blonde days, but I did not expect this to be crunchy! That was a big surprise! I know everything said toasted but actually tasting it was so unexpected.

I will have to be honest and say that I did not like the original Garlic Gold. The toasted bits did not taste like garlic to me, they actually had a bitter taste and left a lingering effect in my mouth. I really wanted to like them, even the crunchiness would have been a nice surprise had the bits actually tasted like garlic. I think the garlic flavor came mainly from the oil they were packed in and not the toasted bits themselves, although they did seem to add a more pungent garlic aroma to the oil.

At first I thought it also could be a side effect of the toasting... garlic when overheated or overcooked becomes bitter. But then I moved to the Sea Salt nuggets, which are also toasted, and was suddenly not so sure.

I think, due to the strongly toasted taste and crunchiness, this would be best used in a long simmering sauce where it has time to mellow and mingle with other flavors.

GarlicGold Nuggets, Sea Salt Flavor

The nuggets were absolutely delicious! As soon as I tasted the first little bit I wanted more, and could already imagine all the things I could sprinkle this amazing stuff on. 

The nuggets are simply garlic bits toasted in organic olive oil and blended with sea salt (for this flavor). 

On the Garlic Gold website, they have a variety of flavors like Herbs de Provence, southwestern and even Parmesan which I would more than happily jump to try.

The nuggets were crunchy and there was no bitterness whatsoever. The aroma was so pleasantly fresh. The nuggets were also nicely salty, and definitely strong enough to substitute for some of the salt in any dish (although it is not meant to be a salt), with out being mouth-puckeringly salty. 

Just mild enough to use as a topping, but strong enough to mix into a dish. It is, in my opinion, perfectly blended to be a versatile kitchen staple.

The jar says this would be great on just about anything, and I agree. I could instantly see making some knockout homemade potato chips, sprinkled with the sea salt nuggets while still hot. Yum!

But I did have one nitpick about this product and it's that I wish the holes on the shaker top were a bit smaller. The product doesn’t sprinkle out evenly or slowly enough for me to use it in this manner while cooking, but really like I said... nitpick. 

Also, the product says it is a healthy alternative to bacon bits. And while it will definitely fill your taste for salt, it is not quite crunchy enough to really stand in for that bacon bit quality, so if you must have a good crunch, keep making your homemade bits for that... but definitely add in some sea salt nuggets when you do!

The next product I tried was the Garlic Gold Oil. This stuff too had an amazing garlic aroma, but not quite as strong as the nuggets. 

True to the name, the oil is a beautiful golden color. It was great to look at, and beautiful when packaged, but I was a bit disappointed that, being a high quality “gourmet” oil, it was not packaged in a UV protective bottle. This is one you will definitely want to store away from your stove in a cool, dark cabinet to keep it fresh, no exceptions.

I tasted the oil, outright. In my opinion, and for my taste buds, there was no huge difference between this oil and the oil the Original Garlic Gold is packed in. But it was delicious, light and just-so garlic flavored. Because I did not like the toasted bits in the Garlic Gold, and loved the oil, I would definitely purchase this product over the Garlic Gold hands down.

I was excited to use this product the most. Anyone who has tried their hands at making infused oils knows how difficult and frustrating it can be. Things go rancid very easily, and a lot of oil (and money) is wasted. For me, this beautifully colored and flavored garlic olive oil would definitely be worth the convenience. Even before cooking with it I knew I would buy again just for that fact. And then I had to get cooking with it!

My first order of business... make Midnight Pasta or, traditionally named, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (that's spaghetti with garlic and oil in Italian). 

Midnight pasta is a favorite dish in our house. It is basically a classic Italian spaghetti preparation. Thin noodles tossed in oil and herbs with cheese. It is the most garlicky dish my husband and I can ever agree on (me being a garlic-lover, him being a garlic-tolerater). I wanted to try my hand at making the dish using less fresh garlic (which he always picks out and dumps in my bowl) and adding in the Garlic Gold products... maybe I could finally pull him over to my side.

The final consensus: some ups and downs. First off, it was delicious, no doubt about that. But surprisingly, using these garlic products over actual garlic did not make the end result more garlicky. It did something wonderful and strange at the same time. 

The pasta ended with a very pleasant, subtle but very “there” dispersed garlic flavor, which my husband actually really liked. Score! I however, missed the strong pop of garlic flavor I would usually get when using fat slices of garlic in this recipe. But, I did love that, by using the oil, I could taste garlic in every bite.

So I have two versions of midnight pasta with Garlic Gold Oil. One “get your garlic-feet wet” version, for those of you who like a nice garlic flavored dish, but hate chunks of garlic, and a second “all out” version for those of you who want garlic, garlic and more garlic goodness. Use as many organic ingredients as you can to enjoy with this organic product.

You can choose any type of pasta for this dish you like (although I suggest no tiny pastas), but the classic preparation is with spaghetti. Nine times out of ten, we make this with penne. Something about the thicker pasta when covered in Parmesan is not only delicious, but easier and faster to eat, which means seconds for you before its all gone! Also, easier for my little toddler to enjoy with us.

Midnight Pasta (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio)
1lb dry organic Pasta, your choice
1/3 cup Garlic Gold Oil
2 tbsp butter (no margarine or spreads! optional)*
4 cloves garlic, minced (or 8, for true garlic lovers)
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh minced parsley (optional) OR dried parsley, to taste
1 cup quality, grated Parmesan cheese (suggest Stella, if not organic)
*Butter is completely optional, but it really kicks up the savory flavor of this dish.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta.
In a large pan, heat Garlic Gold oil, and butter (if using) over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook just before browning, about 30 seconds.
Add red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 1 minute.
Take 1 ½ cups of water from the cooking pasta and add to pan. Add salt. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by one third, about 5 minutes.
Add drained al dente pasta to the pan with the reduced liquid and toss to combine.
Remove coated pasta to serving dish and toss with Parmesan cheese and parsley (if using). I also personally like to add lots of black pepper. If your pasta is needing any salt, I definitely suggest topping it with the Garlic Gold Sea Salt Nuggets.
Serve (and eat) immediately! Midnight pasta is best when hot!

Midnight Pasta is as versatile as the Garlic Gold Nuggets and Oil. Dress it up with fresh cooked and crumbled bacon, or pancetta. Do midnight zucchini or farro pasta instead.

Last but not least, the Vinaigrette. I'm going to be completely honest, I did not expect to like this or even use it again. 

I like citrus, but generally not as a dressing. My husband loves a salad dry with just lemon or lime squeezed over the top. Not my idea of a good time!

Opening up the bottle and taking in the scent I was surprised to find that lemon was not an overpowering smell there. Yes, definitely some lemon, but still garlic too and something else that made me eager to try it. 

I couldn't put my finger on it so I read the ingredients. A very impressive 7 simple ingredients for a salad dressing. Just their Garlic Gold Oil, Organic Meyer lemon juice, garlic gold nuggets, sea salt, pepper, spice blend and Italian seasonings (all organic). It was the Italian seasonings that had my taste buds tingling. 

I was really impressed already with this dressing before tasting, because it smelled so delicious. So I dabbed a little out of the bottle. It was delicious!

The Italian seasoning blend in this is very good. And the lemon was just enough as an acidic kick and flavor. I typically don't do vinaigrette because they are just too, well, vinegary. But this is a vinegar free vinaigrette... ingenious!

So the next day, I made myself a fresh Summer Salad. A mixture of whatever greens I had, and fresh seasonal local fruit. I call it a summer salad, but it's really meant to fit any season with whatever you can source locally and organically, and of course in season (although I cheated a little). Here's what I ended up with, but really your spring,summer or winter salad will be whatever you want to make it.

My Summer Salad

Red and Green Leaf Lettuces
Pea Sprouts
Carrot Top Greens
Shredded Rainbow carrots
Diced Blood Orange
Diced Orange
Diced Kiwi Fruit

And it doesn’t end there. I’ve done this with blueberries and strawberries. Clementines are one of my favorite add ins. You can add protein. I think nuts work great. Try Brazil Nuts or sliced almonds. You can also add wheatgrass for a nutritional punch (don't overdo it and you won't even notice its there). Rainbow kale or beet greens for a colorful addition. Arugula for a peppery kick. Experiment with other sprouts to finish it off.

Top with your favorite salty cheese to help cut the sweet and acid of the fruit. I chose feta, but Parmesan works great too.

When all was said and done, I topped this beautiful salad with the Meyer Lemon dressing and the Sea Salt Nuggets. And let me tell you... it was gone before I even sat down! I never got the crunch from the nuggets that I thought I would, which I think is a general downside of the product for me. The crunch is just not strong enough to notice once mixed into things. Either way I could taste the extra kick of garlic they added.

The acid in the dressing worked well with the kiwi and oranges. The spice blends gave it a great flavor. 

I hate nothing more than a dry salad and this dressing really clung well to the salad which I have to say is a really cool thing to me. Usually dressings slip and slide of my greens leaving a pool or wasted dressing in my plate at the end, but there was none of that here.

I also love the little freebie in the box, the drizzle spout, which I popped on the bottle. It made it super easy to dress this salad without over doing it.

Now to be fair, I did ration out a bite to my husband and toddler. Even my daughter loved it, it was not too strong for her. 

My husband however did complain it was too acidic. Although I did not feel the same way, I understood where he was coming from. I had quite a bit of acidic fruits in the salad to pair with a vinaigrette. I loved it so I think it is personal preference. Just be careful of putting too many acidic fruits in your summer salad with this dressing if that is undesirable because it does have a nice, noticeably lemon flavor.

What I loved most about the dressing was how understated it was. Sometimes you dress a salad and every bit you are tasting the dressing first and foremost, regardless of how much is used. Most are packed with so much sugar and vinegar you can't help but notice them. 

This dressing was not short of flavor in any way, but it was such a team player. It didn't overpower the fresh ingredients which I feel is most important. Fresh local ingredients are meant to be enjoyed, and the dressing definitely allowed me to do that while making the whole dish better.

I think by far and most surprisingly the dressing ended up being my favorite Garlic Gold product, followed by the nuggets and oil. I don't think I would try the original Garlic Gold again.

Not only did I not care for the flavor of the toasted bits, but I can not see how I would use it in cooking. Even after looking up recipes on the Garlic Gold website I could not see the benefit to using the Garlic Gold. Both the nuggets and original Garlic Gold did not seem to have enough of a noticeable crunchiness to stand out once mixed into things, so I didn't see it as a benefit over the garlic oil and fresh garlic. For those that strongly dislike chopping their own garlic, it may be useful, however, in recipes that allow for a good bit of simmering time.

I will definitely continue to use Garlic Gold products. Not only are their products delicious, they are organic, and it is an organic business that has grown from a family passion.

You can shop Garlic Gold direct from their website. I like their simple product line, and they have an entire blog of recipes for all of their products. Browsing the recipes gave me some good ideas - they had a really wide collection of completely different foods you could make with their products. I can't wait to try some out. Hopefully I've got my husband hooked!

If you sign up for the Garlic Gold newsletter you will receive a coupon worth $5 off your next order!

Garlic Gold is offering a fantastic Giveaway - one Winner in the US will receive the same Garlic Gold Gift Box I received for review ($37.95 value)!  This Giveaway ends 6-1-15, making it a great gift idea for your favorite garlic-loving dad!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY
and will end just before midnight ET on 6-1-15. 

The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



  1. I would really like to try the Turkey Burgers with Pineapple Salsa recipe.

  2. The Baked Falafel Salad with Hummus Dressing looks amazing!

  3. I think the southwest nuggets sound very good!

  4. all so perfect, we LOVE Whole Foods and eating organic, real foods! I'm also big on garlic! #meanderingMondays

  5. I'd love to try the SEAFOOD PASTA PRIMAVERA!! I'm amazed at how many good recipes there are to try!

  6. My next order of business will be trying the Red Wine Vinaigrette and Parmesan Nuggets. Hope you all love the products as much as I did :)

  7. I would love to make the Recipe of the Week:Baked Zucchini Fries from the site. I love zucchini and I would use this garlic over pasta too.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  8. The recipe for the Chimichurri Sauce with Garlic Gold Nuggets sounds wonderful!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  9. I'd also like to make the Garlic Gold® Southwest Nuggets
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  10. The Garlic Nugget has a crunch of the sweet garlic. Garlic Nuggets is a garlic infusion of the highest quality in our oils and vinaigrettes, these artisan delights are truly one of a kind. Sounds so Yummy!

  11. The condiment can go on anything from pizza, pasta, to meats.

  12. Their products can go on pretty much anything and they use nuggets instead of garlic dust.

  13. I found it interesting that the products started as an 11th grade school oroject.

  14. I found this recipe I want to make:

    I love using garlic in all my recipes, including meat sauce, guacamole, and cheesy toast

  15. I love garlic. I use it in everything I cook. I recently figured out an easy way to cut it up quickly, by using a cheese grater!

  16. Baked Zucchini Fries.
    My favorite way to use it is in soups.

  17. I absolutely love garlic! Now that grilling season has arrived, I would love to make Garlic Gold's Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breasts. Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend? I hope you will join us again next Monday!

  18. I love garlic and use it in so many things that I make. Sauces and dressings are always better with garlic!

  19. I love garlic and use it in practically every savory meal I make. My favorite recipe from the site is the Seafood Pasta Primavera, yum!

  20. The Seafood Pasta Primavera is on my to do list. Actually, my to EAT kist. OMG, sounds SO good! scain54(at)aol(dot)com

  21. I'd like to use the Garlic Gold Oil. I'd use it in my stir fried meat and vegetables.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  22. My sister in law would love this she is a huge garlic lover, she ven has garlic spread to eat with her bread. I am definitely telling her about this product and great review by the way i need to try all those amazing looking dishes!

  23. My sister in law would love this she is a huge garlic lover, she ven has garlic spread to eat with her bread. I am definitely telling her about this product and great review by the way i need to try all those amazing looking dishes!

  24. I learned that they're fresh, straight from California!

  25. I use garlic in a lot of things I make like, marinades, stir fry, with oil and seasonings and then dip bread in it. I really want to try the Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breasts recipe it looks and sounds delicious.

  26. I was looking for a new garlic (ours is almost out) I'm going to try this soon!

  27. I like the idea of sweet potato nachos.

  28. This box is made for me. We love garlic. The Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breasts look great.

  29. like to try the sweet potato nachos. thankyou, ken

  30. I like the product. Price a little high though.

  31. Hi Bree,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful give away with us and I love the pasta and salad recipes. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & twitted. Have a healthy happy blessed Memorial Day.

  32. I would love to try the baked zucchini fries!! I think my kids would even love them!, we use garlic on everything!

  33. Yum! I hadn't ever heard of Sweet Potato Nachos before and now want to make them for the next girls' night.

  34. I want to just put this on all the things.

  35. The BALSAMIC GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS recipe sounds great!

  36. I had no idea that there was a garlic oil,

  37. We love garlic in our house so we will have to give these a try! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty.

  38. I am just like you! I LOVE garlic. I think I use garlic powder, garlic butter, fresh garlic, or roasted, jarred garlic in just about everything I cook. These are really great recipes.

    1. Me too! It's impossible to keep garlic in this house! You will love their products, I'm already out of oil. Happy cooking! :)

  39. I love garlic too! I can eat a lot of pickled garlic (out of the jar!) or roasted garlic. mmmm. I'd like to try the baked zucchini fries recipe.

  40. The seafood pasta primavera sounds so delicious! I use garlic, olive oil and onion almost daily. This is a product I am definitely interested in trying!!

  41. Such great recipes! Thank you so much for the giveaway and for linking up at the Thank Goodness It's Thursday party. I can't wait to see what you link up tomorrow!

  42. These are great summer time recipes. I am trying the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio tonight.

  43. I think the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio sounds great and easy enough that I could make it!

  44. Baked zucchini fries sound so good!

  45. Wow I would love to try the Garlic Gold nuggets and I would like to make the garlic goddess dressing.

  46. Yum, Yum! Both look delicious. I love garlic and this product sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  47. Great flavors for these recipes! Thanks so much for sharing your post with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great day and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  48. I love garlic! I pretty much put garlic in everything! #ProductReviewParty

  49. The baslamic grilled chicken breasts sound delicious!! I'd love to try that recipe.

  50. I like that they have a meyer lemon garlic flavor. I would love to blacken some chicken with this!

  51. The recipe i like is the TURKEY BURGERS WITH PINEAPPLE SALSA. I use garlic when I make spagetti sauce.

  52. The herb egg salad is making me hungry

  53. the Baked Zucchini Fries sounds like a good recipe

  54. Balsamic Grilled chicken breast recipe looks yum!

  55. Ohh, what a fantastic giveaway! That Herbed Egg Salad sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing this at the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!

  56. I would love to try the Chicken Flatbread Pomodoro recipe.

  57. I'd like to try the GARLIC-ENCRUSTED PORK LOIN ROAST WITH PARSNIPS recipe. I use garlic on everything. I grow my own garlic.

  58. The baked zucchini fries looks delicious...they have a ton of great recipes.

  59. The baked zucchini fries looks delicious...they have a ton of great recipes.

  60. I learned that the company is located in Ventura, CA. I like to sprinkle garlic on buttered toast.

  61. I like garlic and use it in a lot of thing i cook

  62. There are some really good recipes. I really want to try the Baked Zucchini Fries.

  63. I learned that Garlic Gold is organic which is really important nowadays. I use garlic in just about every recipe. We love garlic and it is so good for you.

  64. Garlic lovers unite! Thanks for linking up and sharing your recipe and giveaway with us at Funtastic Friday. Please join us again this week.

  65. I could go for the garlic waffled hash browns and that egg right now!

  66. The Southwest Nuggets s o bud yummy to me

  67. I would like to make the Bolognese Meat Sauce with Italian Herbs

  68. The Garlic Grilled Potato Salad looks really tasty!

  69. Right now, the recipe for turkey burgers and pineapple salsa sounds yummy!

  70. I learned that you can use garlic on just about anything! I mostly like to use it on spaghetti myself. I would love to try the zucchini fries! Yum

  71. I use garlic in almost everything that I cook. I make a lot of Mexican dishes and Italian dishes. I would love to try this in a salad too.

  72. I use garlic in almost everything that I cook. I make a lot of Mexican dishes and Italian dishes. I would love to try this in a salad too.

  73. how fabulous! such a greatly put together box of yummyyyys! Bummed I missed the giveaway on thsi one but will check it out for purchase. Thank you for the fab review :)