Garlic Contest: Submit Your Top Dish

Garlic's hottest showdown is on the heat-tasty horizon.

IT'S ALWAYS A DECISION, when peeling a head of garlic, if you'll take the time to de-paper the tiniest cloves, those little slivers that come in at about a tenth of the size of the most colossal cloves in the bunch. The smallest slivers can challenge even the deftest of peel-ready fingers, especially if the paper-like skin just won't give. But here's the truth of the matter, with any garlic-obsessed cook: The whole darn head is going to get peeled, mondo cloves and mini cloves alike. Because a garlicist would never waste a shred of hot garlicky flavor, not when there's chicken or pasta or dip to be made, and be made well. For here's the truth: These dedicated peelers of picayune cloves are some of the very people who enter their best recipes in Great Garlic Cook-Off, year after year. Is that you? Do you remove the skin from all the cloves, even the wee ones, before you cook? Then you are properly and admirably obsessed with this allium icon. Best find your favorite way to use it, and send your top-notch dish into the Gilroy Garlic Festival by...

MAY 1, 2016: That's the cut-off date for recipe consideration for the July festival. The big prize, as is tradition, is as eye-opening as biting down on a freshly peeled clove: It's five grand, as in $5,000, which'll buy wheelbarrows full of garlic (or anything else you please). The 2015 top dish was Shakshuka with Deep-Fried Garlic, by Jodi Taffel of Arizona. Mmm mmm, for sure, but don't "mmm mmm" for too long, if you want to throw your hat -- er, garlic head -- into the ring; you'll want to read the rules and perhaps eye other past winners, to get a feel for what home cooks are creating with the versatile bulb nowadays. You might even ponder doing a dessert, since garlic ice cream is one of the fest's headline treats.

NEED TO KNOW... about how the stages of the Great Garlic Cook-Off roll out, selection-wise, and how many finalists will be invited to show for the showdown on Saturday, July 30? Here's all the rule-based info (we've peeled away the papery skin so you can dig right in, right away).

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