Roasted Garlic - Fresh from the Garden
Jim and Maggie Threadgill are not just the owners of the family business, Easy to Grow Bulbs - they are also the inspiration. From time to time, we get to check in with Maggie for garden fresh recipes, gardening tips and garden-inspired decorating.
Caramelized Roasted Garlic
Roasted garlic is a delicious and healthful spread for fresh bread or an essential ingredient for many salad dressings, sauces and soups. A sweet, complex, butterfly flavor with luscious garlic flavor and no bite. So easy to make - and impossible to resist!
For this tasty treat, either hard neck garlic (best grown in the northern 2/3 of the United States and planted only in the fall), or soft neck garlic (that do best in the southern 2/3 of the U.S. and can be planted spring or fall) works equally well. Maggie typically uses a soft neck garlic.
Harvest the number of garlic heads you want to roast, from your garden, or snag them from storage. Remove the loose, outer garlic skins. Trim the tops off of the head of each garlic head (about ¼”, so the ends of the cloves inside are snipped open).
Place into a garlic roaster or wrap in aluminum foil - or make your own with a terracotta pot and saucer!
How to Use a Terracotta Pot and Catch Tray to Roast Garlic
To make your own garlic roaster using a terracotta pot takes just a few easy steps:
Start with a clean terracotta pot and saucer. The pot should be just large enough to cover the garlic head(s) you want to roast with out touching the garlic. The pot should fit tightly inside the saucer when turned upside down and set inside the saucer.
Be sure to use a clean pot and catch tray - not one with any insecticidal spray used on it. You don't want to wash with soap and water, as the soap will be absorbed by the clay and impart an unfortunate taste.
Soak the pot and saucer in water for 2-3 hours prior to its first use - this will not be necessary for further uses. This step is to hydrate your terracotta pot and ensure it is structurally sound for the heating and roasting ahead.
Drizzle a light layer of olive oil over the pot and saucer - inside and out. This is to season your new garlic roaster prior to its first use. This step will not need to be repeated for future uses.
Complete the seasoning process for your new terracotta pot garlic roaster by placing the pot and saucer in a cool over, heating to 325 for 45 minutes and allowing to cool.
You have now turned this terracotta pot and catch tray into a fully seasoned garlic roaster! The drainage hole in the pot allows steam to be released, and can be stopped with a ball of foil if desired.
A seasoned terracotta pot with a few heads of gourmet garlic inside, with the saucer turned upside down over the top, tied with raffia and a simple card of garlic roasting steps makes a terrific gift! Light on the wallet, long on personal touch! :)
Back to the garlic roasting directions!
Take the heads of garlic that are trimmed and sliced about 1/4" from the tip, then group them with the cut sides facing up in the garlic roaster, terracotta saucer or aluminum foil.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, letting the oil seep into each clove of the garlic.
Place lid on the garlic roaster, or seal the foil. Bake at 400 degrees for at least 40 minutes. You can even do this on the grill while you are barbecuing other parts of the meal! Don’t worry about cooking them too long, they seem to get even more caramelized and delicious with more baking time. The cooking time varies with the age and size of the garlic pods. The heads should be soft when poked and golden in color.
Serve the heads whole, and encourage your guests to pick up the entire garlic head by hand, and squeeze from the bottom - soft buttery smooth garlic pulp will emerge to be spread on bread or crackers. Of course, the more fastidious can use a knife to dip into the garlic head.
There are many other ways to enjoy roasted garlic, including using the garlic "paste" to spice up vinaigrettes, rub over a a chicken prior to roasting, add it to pesto for a pizza sauce, or whisk it into olive oil and add a squirt of lemon over grilled veggies. I should warn you - this one can become addicting! Enjoy!
If you have enjoyed this recipe using ingredients you grow in your own garden, please stay tuned! We will have much more to share from Maggie's garden and dinner table!
- Kathleen McCarthy