Roasting Garlic

Easy – and you don’t need a fancy-schmancy ceramic garlic roaster, either. Use a whole bulb of garlic, and remove most of the papery outer wrapper. Snip the tip off each clove. Set the bulb on a square of aluminum foil, fold the corners up, and add a tablespoon of water. Fold the foil together and pinch to seal. Set on a baking sheet in a 325 oven for 15 minutes or until the cloves feel soft.

Let cool a bit, then just force the baked pulp out of each clove, onto a slice of toasted crusty bread. Spread, and add sliced tomato, basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and whatever else is handy.

But if you’re going to light the oven anyway, why not roast a dozen! Add the roasted (mellowed, sweet, rich) puree to homemade salad dressing, broth, pasta sauce, juiced vegetables, gravy, pesto, risotto, scrambled eggs or a marinade. Keep the extras in a covered container in the fridge.

Sunrise on a hot Midsummer’s Day: perfect for curing Garlic

Garlic Pasta

Start water boiling for a pound of pasta. If this were me, it would be fettucine.  Separate and peel cloves from a bulb of garlic – about a dozen. To peel easily, lay on cutting board, lay a knife flat over it and whap it with the heel of your hand. Remove skin, leaving cloves whole.

Start the pasta cooking. In a saute pan, heat a quarter inch of olive oil till it ripples, then add garlic and brown. Yes, brown! As long as it doesn’t char, it won’t be bitter. Then chop coarsely a big bunch of chives, add to oil, saute’ a few seconds and turn off heat.

The pasta will be nearly done: now ladle 2 cups of the cooking water into the pan of sauteed garlic. Season with a little fresh-ground black pepper.  Drain the pasta and divide into 4 bowls. Top with crumbled Romano, or well-rinsed Feta, then spoon the garlic and broth over all.

The small amount of starch in the cooking water carries the flavor better than just adding seasonings to the pasta, yet it’s a light sauce. You could add a few peeled, chopped ripe tomatoes, or fold in some soft goat cheese. But it’s excellent as is: a first course, side dish or main meal.

Garlic Soup

Simmer 12 cloves garlic, 6 sprigs fresh sage, 2 bay leaves, a celery heart, 12 cracked black peppercorns, and 2 tbsp olive oil in 6 cups water, covered, for ten minutes. Strain, mashing garlic to release flavor.

Spoon a cup of the broth over a slice of day-old country bread and top with a poached egg.

Or use the  savory meatless broth in any soup recipe. Store in a glass jar in fridge up to 2 weeks.

Maybe because I grow Garlic, I consider it not just a seasoning, but a vegetable in its own right

Using Garlic

1. Peel and coarsely chop 4 or 5 cloves, and cook in butter over low heat until soft. Add some chopped fresh parsley, and toss over pasta. Top with grated hard cheese.

2. Peel cloves of garlic and split lengthwise in 4’s. Make slits in any thick cut of meat you are preparing, and insert slivers of garlic – 2 or 3 per planned serving – then proceed with roasting or grilling.

3. Peel 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, and puree in blender with one-half cup each mayonnaise and buttermilk. Season with cracked black pepper. Use as a dressing on blanched, chilled vegetables.

4. Toast some slices of crusty bread lightly. Then spread with a mixture of 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, 3 tbsp minced flatleaf parsley, 2 tsp ground black pepper and 4 finely minced cloves of garlic. Set under broiler just till golden. This is the definitive answer to soggy “garlic bread.”

5. Peel and mince coarsely 5 or 6 cloves of garlic. Toss in a quarter inch of hot olive oil, being careful not to scorch them, till they’re brown and crisp. Pour them, oil and all, over steamed broccoli.