So maybe you’ve already heard about roasted garlic. Maybe I’m just the most clueless person ever and you’re shaking your head in annoyance at this post because Duh! Everyone knows about roasted garlic! Or maybe you’re about to thank me for introducing you to your new ‘secret ingredient’ that will form the base of every recipe from now on and will leave relatives and friends looking at you in awe and begrudging admiration. I’m sure there’s a middle ground somethere but I’m not doing middle ground today. Can you sense that I allowed myself to have a cup of coffee today?
I actually didn’t discover roasted garlic until about 3 years ago although I’ve always been a fan of garlic. I’ve never understood when someone has described a meal as too garlicky. How was I to know that baking garlic in the oven with a bit of olive oil would bring out the amazingly creamy, decadent and luxurious side of such tiny cloves? If you’ve never roasted garlic, PLEASE DO IMMEDIATELY. For years my assigned dish for Christmas Lunch was mashed potatoes (which I totally love au natural), but the addition of roasted garlic to the potatoes definitely bumped me up the “who made the best meal” scale. I definitely moved above salad (sorry bro!)!
Because the cooking mellows the flavor so much, you can easily spread the garlic alone on a slice of bread for a quick snack. I usually mash my garlic into a paste, so the remaining olive oil in the pan helps give the garlic a nice, spreadable buttery texture. You can also add to soups, salads, salad dressing, potatoes, or puree it with your other favourite ingredients to make a sauce or pesto. I’ve even seen recipes for roasted garlic oil which you can drizzle in soups. If you’re still unsure about it, try it with mashed potatoes first. Make your potatoes as normal and mash the roasted garlic cloves with the boiled potatoes. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to roast it the traditional way – in the oven, it really isn’t that much of a hassle. It keeps well in the fridge so you can roast a lot at once while you’re doing the dishes or having dinner. It’s a great way to ‘hide’ the work and finish a big element of your future dish in advance. The basic recipe goes as follows:
Traditional Roasted Garlic
1 head Garlic
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top of the head off, about ¼ – ½ inch deep to ensure that the top of each clove is exposed. Remove any loose papery skin around the head of garlic and place on a sheet of foil. Drizzle enough olive oil over the exposed cloves to ensure that oil gets into the crevices between each clove.
Cover the garlic with foil (you can make cute little foil packets by folding up the edges of the foil and pinching them together) and bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
Ensure that the cloves are soft enough for a knife to pierce the top of the clove easily. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, squeeze the bottom of each clove to allow the garlic to pop out, or peel away the outer layer of garlic skin and pull the clove out.
Warning: The smell from your oven will feel like a hug for your nostrils. You may be enveloped in memories and images that aren’t even yours.
The only catch with roasting garlic in the oven is that it can take ages, especially if you’re waiting for it to add to a meal you’re about to cook. It takes about 35-40 minutes and sometimes I don’t want to turn on my oven just to roast one tiny thing. So if you want to feature it in your dish, planning ahead really helps. There have actually been a few occasions where I’ve wanted to use a recipe with roasted garlic but just started cooking too late and the hanger (yes, hunger / anger) took over. So I devised a shortcut to roast this garlic on the stovetop which is just as easy as the oven.
Stovetop Roasted Garlic
1 head Garlic, unpeeled and separated into cloves
Turn on stove to medium heat. Place Garlic in frying pan. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over unpeeled cloves, ensuring that cloves are more or less evenly coated. Reduce heat to lowest setting and let garlic cook, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes until garlic skin is browned. If you do have a side of a clove that is exposed, don’t worry. Let it cook but monitor it while cooking to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
Turn off heat and leave to cool. Once cooled, pinch hard tip of each clove off and skin should come off easily.
Roasted garlic can be stored by itself in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Don’t squeeze the cloves out – just cover with foil, or squeeze out and store in a jar with enough olive oil to cover the cloves.
If you’re not a fan of garlic (i.e. you find it too assertive), don’t think that you’re excused from trying this. Like I said, the heat mellows out the flavour tremendously to the point that you can pop a whole buttery clove in your mouth. I’ve done that with raw garlic. Note to self: if it smells good, it doesn’t mean it tastes good. (How many times can I learn this lesson!? Raw garlic, Cocoa butter and vanilla essence have all taught me this lesson before!)
The oven garlic flavor will be deeper and more developed than the stovetop garlic, but I admit that the flavor that the stovetop garlic provides its sort of a middle ground and is quite delicious too… Huh. I guess I do actually do middle ground. Or my caffeine rush has ebbed. I better end this post here by insisting that you try roasting garlic either way and apologizing in advance to any brooding, garlic hating Vampire who may imprint on you and want to glitter together for eternity (#twilightreference). I’m personally more of a Harry Potter girl.