Roasted garlic

I was in the market today and came across a little container of peeled garlic for 78 cents. Now, I use a lot of garlic in my kitchen. I keep a garlic jar, purchased in Italy and made for this purpose, full of the papery bulbs. I enjoy breaking them apart and peeling each clove, seeing its imperfections and individual shape. I even enjoy the stickiness the comes to my fingers when I've peeled enough cloves that I know the scent won't go away with a quick wash at the sink. I like keeping the whole bulbs handy because they last longer. They don't lose their sting. Because I can touch each clove as I prepare a meal.

But this little container was alluring, the ivory cloves looking up at me. What would I do with 35 or so peeled cloves of garlic all at once? I didn't want to roast a 40 clove chicken tonight... Ah. Roasted garlic, so simple and with such benefit. I scooped up the container and spent my 78 cents. I had a plan.

Once home I pre-heated the oven to 350, poured the garlic cloves into an oven-proof bowl, lavished them with olive oil, salt and pepper, covered and let them roast. I all but forgot about them. It was maybe 30 minutes later that I peeked and poked. Pale gold and soft under my spoon with a darker brown crust, they were done. I let them cool, then poured them and the fragrant oil into a jar to wait for later use. And yes, I ate one or two (alright, three or four) while they were warm.

Oh, they were good. Soft and melting, the sharpness of the cloves mellowed into sweetness. The oil coated my mouth and my tongue, my senses whirling with delight.

What will I do with them? Smear them on sandwiches. Add them to salads. Use them in recipes where I want the mellow sweetness. Make them into jam. Crush them into mayonnaise. I'll use the oil on salad or bread, cook potatoes in it or use it in a marinade. On and on. And next time I see that little container slyly asking me to take it home, I will. Roasted garlic is so easy to make and doesn't last long in my home. Try it. It won't last long in yours either.

(c) 2012 Laura S. Packer


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