Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over 20 years. She has cooked on multiple television stations, including the Food Network.
A Necessary Weapon for Your Culinary Arsenal
After a lifetime love affair with all things garlic, I was stunned this past year when I finally discovered roasted garlic. How a die-hard foodie like me missed something so elemental, so easy, so delicious, I have no clue. All I can do is mourn the lost years and do my best to make up for lost time now.
I often, in the past, would purchase large bags of garlic at the warehouse stores, just because it keeps so well, and I use so much of that lovely stuff anyway. But since learning how to roast it, I go through it like crazy, roasting it off to add to breads, soups, and potatoes—as well as rubs for chicken. It's amazing mixed into mayonnaise—puree it smooth, mix it with mayo, and you have the most amazing stuff for the top of a burger or the best turkey sandwich you've ever had. Or stir it into sour cream to top baked potatoes, and you'll find you won't miss the butter when you skip that. My favorite, though, is to mix it into some homemade butter and spread it in a heavy layer on French bread—bake that off and my four kids can easily work through two loaves in a heartbeat. Roasted garlic is just one of those flavors—luscious and appealing and can't-get-enough.
Something fabulous happens to garlic when it's roasted—it becomes sweet and buttery with a nutty characteristic that's one of a kind. It loses all traces of harshness and acquires a unique fragrance. Try this super simple procedure and you'll find yourself in the same place I am—looking for ways to use this gorgeous stuff more and more often!
- 2-3 whole heads of garlic
- 1/2 tsp or so of kosher salt per head
- 1 tsp of good olive oil per head
- A sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove as much of the outer paper from garlic heads as possible, while leaving the head intact. With a sharp knife, trim off the tips of each clove. Or place the head on a cutting board and simply cut it in half, giving you two clusters of half cloves. If the head is really big, I find it easier to just cut them each in half. If the clove is small, I just trim the ends of the cloves. No right or wrong way!
- Discard any loose paper that fell away during trimming, and place the garlic in the center of the sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the open garlic cloves with the olive oil, and sprinkle each with the kosher salt.
- Fold the aluminum foil over the top of the garlic, sealing the edges to make a little packet. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 45 minutes to an hour. I tend to like the darker, more sugary caramelized flavor of the longer roasting time, but it's really your preference.
- At the end of the cooking time, remove the packet from the oven. Open the top to allow steam to escape, and allow the garlic to cool slightly until it's comfortable to handle.
- To get the good stuff out, hold the head of garlic over a bowl and just squeeze—the cloves will just slide right on out—like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. If you've cooked the garlic for a longer time, it'll be ready to mash with a fork if you wish to use it as a paste. Or if they're still firm they can be easily chopped. Or just eaten whole. My kids will sneak individual cloves from the batch, burning their fingers and mouths, and not caring a bit.
- Don't waste the tiny bits of salty, garlicky oil that gather in the bottom of the aluminum foil. There's never much—but I scrape it into the garlic as well, the flavor there is fabulous too!
That's all there is to it! Give this super easy method a try, and pop it onto your next sandwich, potato or loaf of bread. You'll love me for it!
Beautiful Roasted Garlic
Squeeze the Roasted Cloves
See It Step by Step!
© 2010 Jan Charles
Jan Charles (author) from East Tennessee on February 20, 2012:
Hi there - kosher salt is simply my preference - it has none of the additives of commercial table salt and the taste is cleaner. Sea salt is certainly a great choice - the one thing to check for is that many sea salts are sold just BECAUSE of their unique mineral content. They are delicious - and are FAR different from chemical additives. So - it's a matter of tasting your salt, and deciding if it's something you think would be delicous with roasted garlic. I bet it will be!
Ken Kline from USA on February 17, 2012:
I read how garlic is a great possible preventative food for Cancer. Then I was searching for homemade salad dressing and saw one of the ingredients was roasted garlic.
Curious - why kosher salt? Can I use sea salt?
I just purchased garlic, have it in the fridge - will make the next day I am home.
Jan Charles (author) from East Tennessee on November 06, 2010:
Thanks y'all! This is my new favorite thing!!
rmr from Livonia, MI on November 06, 2010:
You can't go wrong with roasted garlic! I don't even bother with garlic butter. Once you toast your bread, the soft cloves just spread right on and the flavor is amazing!
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on November 06, 2010:
I really love roasted garlic. It looks delicious on potato chips. Rated up!