A very merry National Garlic Day to you! I don’t know about you, but this day celebrates one of my top five food ingredients, garlic. It’s a little pod of flavor explosion in a pretty, paper-wrapped package. I’m an unapologetic allium enthusiast. Vampires everywhere—from your creepy/vintage Lon Chaney to your dreamy/modern Edward—would be wise to avoid my kitchen.

We also love garlic here at Cooking Light for its ability to both add lots of flavor to dishes for minimal calories and its heart-healthy compounds, but I love it for the sharp slap of flavor it lends to nearly any savory dish: If a recipe calls for 1 clove, I add 3. If it doesn’t call for garlic at all, and it makes sense (unless we’re talking about something like apple pie, of course, though now you mention it…) I’m throwing it in there. My travel bucket list includes a visit to the infamous Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, perhaps paired with a meal at The Stinking Rose restaurant in San Francisco. These are my kind of people. Some of you might dream of a margarita-soaked vacation, but mine is more garlic-scented (okay, and also margarita-soaked).

I learned an interesting garlic prep tip in our Nutrition Mistakes feature: Chop garlic early in the prep phase, then set it aside for a few minutes (covered, so it won’t dry out) to give time for thiosulfinates (garlic’s heart-healthy powerhouses) to develop. I tend to chop too chunky, but I plan on minding my mince from now on.

What’s your favorite recipe that celebrates garlic? We have a few garlic-centric sides I’m partial to, like Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Cassoulet or New Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, but  it’s pretty hard to beat Ina Garten’s Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Put them all together, and you’ve got the perfect plate to celebrate National Garlic Day.