Friday, February 11, 2011

'Tis the Season for Roasted Garlic

A long, long time ago (in my twenties) in a galaxy far, far away (Avon, CT) I worked at a swanky Italian restaurant. This is where I tasted my first portobella mushroom, my first rib-eye steak, and where I learned what risotto is. I also learned that serving take-out to ornery customers is much easier after employee wine tastings, and that when the dishwashers say "caliente" they mean the dishes, not you. Anyway, those are other stories.

The main thing this restaurant was famous for was its roasted garlic. You could smell it even before you entered. It was on my skin, and my lips, when I left every night. It lingered, warm and toasty, and completely inoffensive, as long as you shared it. Sometimes I would tell customers it was an aphrodisiac, especially if they seemed to be on a date.

Raw garlic, ready for roasting

The best part is, it's vegan and you can do it at home! Heat the oven to 320, chop a giant head (or several smaller ones) in half, douse liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and thyme, put in a garlic roaster, or cover with tin foil and bake for around an hour and twenty minutes (or until a butter knife plunges easily into each clove.) I usually put the garlic roaster on a baking sheet, since I add a lot of olive oil and it sometimes bubbles over. Now you have the means of taking just about any savory recipe to the next level. Use the garlic-infused oil to make salad dressing, drizzle over roasted veggies, or add to any saute. The garlic itself is great spread on toast or crackers, or added to mashed potatoes. Yum, yum, bring on the garlic love!

Roasted Garlic, golden and buttery!

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