Summer Fest: Roasted Garlic

By: Michelle Buffardi

We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Happy garlic week, everyone. Try saying that to someone just after you've had a garlicky tomato sauce, hummus, pesto or some cheesy garlic bread and you're likely to seriously offend. It's no secret that garlic does little for one's breath, but it's so good. Garlic is essential to nearly every cuisine -- it stars in Indian curries, Chinese stir-fries, Italian, French, and Spanish sauces,  it flavors Greek dips and roasted meats/fish, and is ground into the pastes used in Thai cooking. Not only does garlic flavor our favorite foods, it does our bodies good, as well. Garlic is a known antioxidant and is believed to lower cholesterol, increase blood flow and even cure the common cold. So bad breath be damned, sounds to me like we need to be eating more garlic, not less.

Roasting is a simple method of cooking garlic that will bring out its smoky flavor, soften it for spreading or blending into dips and sauces. And since the flavor is mellowed and less bitter, your breath after eating roasted garlic will be much less offensive than if you ate raw or even sauteed garlic.

The other good news is that it's super-easy to make, requires very little active time in the kitchen and you won't dirty many dishes or utensils. You just cut the top off of a full head (or two or five) of garlic, removing about 1/4 inch and leaving the rest in tact. Sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt and drizzle with olive oil.

Then wrap the clove(s) in foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

You'll need to let the garlic cool for a while so that you can squeeze the soft, roasted individual cloves from their skins. Then you can spread on crusty bread or use in your favorite recipe. Try substituting roasted garlic for raw in pasta sauce for a slightly smoky flavor, use the cloves as a pizza topping or in a pasta dish.

Here are some other great ways to cook with your roasted garlic:
44-Clove Garlic Soup from Smitten Kitchen:

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip from Off the Spork:

Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman's Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Roasted Garlic Hummus from Closet Cooking:

What's your favorite way to eat roasted garlic? Or maybe you'd like to share your favorite garlic breath-fighting gum . . . And don't forget to join the conversation on Twitter at #summerfood.

More Garlic with Friends and Family:

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