Saturday, February 17, 2007

Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic is the queen of roasted vegetables. Nothing else is transformed in quite the same way as garlic when it hits that dry heat. From that biting, harsh, pungent overpowering taste (that I absolutely love, don't get me wrong) you get the smoothest, sweetest, creamiest flavor you've ever had.

What can you do with roasted garlic? What can't you do would be the better question. Add it to mashed potatoes for a little taste of heaven. It's exquisite mixed with butter and spread on a crusty loaf of bread fresh from the oven. The cloves are little globes of perfection squeezed straight onto crostini.

I love roasted garlic so much that I rarely waste time with just one or two heads. If I'm roasting garlic, I roast a minimum of six heads, then I squeeze out the cloves and put them in the refrigerator to throw into all kinds of dishes during the week. This past bunch went into several of the roasted vegetable soups I've been writing about, most recently a roasted carrot and garlic soup that came out heavenly. I also used about half of them in a batch of hummus that was so good I ate it up before I could take a picture. I pureed some up with roasted peppers and kalamata olives for a delicious pasta sauce that needs some work before I can show it off. It tasted really good, but wasn't the most appetizing thing to look at. Sometimes, late at night, I'll just take a couple of cloves and pop them into my mouth and let them melt down my throat. Ummmm. Garlic candy.

If you've never tried them, you really should. It's very little work for a tremendously large gustatory payback.
Roasted Garlic

6 heads fresh garlic (or however many you wish to roast)
olive oil or butter

Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Peel some of the extra paper off of the garlic, but do not remove it all. Slice off the tops of the heads so the tips of the cloves are just barely exposed. Wrap each head in a square of aluminum foil, adding a scant drizzle of olive oil or dab of butter before closing it up. Arrange the garlic bundles in a shallow baking dish and roast for 30-45 minutes, until tender.

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