I can trace my garlic obsession back to about sixth grade. We were having a big wintertime grilling party in celebration of an aunt’s birthday. One of my uncles sliced up loaves of bread, slathered them with margarine and garlic powder, and popped them on the grill until they were slightly burnt and toasty. The tastes of flames and garlic mingling was so simply delicious, I could have made a meal out of a loaf of bread. It may seem silly that something that basic seemed revolutionary to my 11-year-old self, but it was. And when I found out that the garlic powder had been lingering in our spice cupboard all along and I was missing out on that delicacy, I was floored. I wasn’t quite the eleven-year-old who knew her way around a Weber, and so instead after that I was microwaving slices of white bread and garlic powder, and feeling like it was a wonderful unsung treat.
These days garlic powder is generally relegated to smooth gravies and quick sauces, but fresh garlic finds its way into nearly every meal. My favorite way to enjoy garlic is roasted in whole cloves. When spread onto hot, toasted bread, it makes a simple dinner of salad and bread infinitely more exciting, and when topped onto pizza with artichoke hearts and olives, it takes an easy homemade pie made from kitchen staples from ordinary to amazing.
I’ve done the typical version, in which a person roasts the whole head, first cutting off the tip of the bulb, revealing the tops of the cloves, and then covering the exposed area in oil. After that the bulb is put into a covered container or wrapped in foil, and then baked for about fifty minutes. However, there are two problems as I see it with this method. The first is that 50 minutes is too long for most nights. I suppose if I was only enjoying roasted garlic on special occasions, this wouldn’t matter much, but since I like them as part of an easy weeknight meal, I prefer it if the garlic takes about the same amount of time as chopping vegetables and preparing salad dressing. The second problem is that after roasting the heads of garlic whole, a person is supposed to wait about ten minutes to let the cloves cool. Since eating the whole heads requires squeezing the smooth and buttery clove out of the papery covering, if you dig in too quickly, you’re apt to burn your fingers. I’ve experienced this the hard way. It’s like waiting to drink hot cocoa, sometimes it’s hard to be patient, but that lingering burning on the roof of your mouth makes you regret it later.
That’s why I make The Impatient Person’s Roasted Garlic.
The Impatient Person’s Roasted Garlic
- 2 heads of garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 380 degrees. Break two heads of garlic into cloves. Smash each clove with the flat side of the knife and remove the papery covering. If there are any huge cloves, cut them into slightly smaller portions, so that the cloves cook evenly at the same rate. Put the cloves into a covered container. (The tiny 8 ounce cocotte from Le Creuset works perfectly. If you’re feeling like roasting a whole head instead, it’s also the ideal size.) Cover the cloves in a light drizzling of extra virgin olive oil, just enough so that the cloves won’t burn and stick where they’re touching the dish. Let the garlic roast for twenty minutes, remove to stir and check that it isn’t burning, cover and roast for ten minutes more.
Serve the cloves with toasted bread and salad or split pea soup. Looking to add some more omega 3’s to your diet? The bread is also good slathered with garlic and then dipped in balsamic vinegar, flax oil, and fresh ground pepper.