How to roast garlic

Fun & easy garlic preparation

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You’ll find the robust flavor of garlic in many a flavorful dish, from fancy Italian pastas to the street tacos you buy from the corner truck. But garlic doesn’t always have to be the punchy-flavored strongman. Sometimes, it can be the mellow jazz musician in a smoky club that makes the whole atmosphere more rich. Roasted garlic adds a rich, soulful note to anything from potatoes to marinades. You can even savor its mild, nutty flavor alone or on a piece of crusty toast.

While you can roast any kind of garlic you like, purple stripe is generally considered the premier roasting garlic. You can easily identify purple stripe by its distinctive purple streaks. It produces the sweetest flavor of all the garlics available. That being said, it's also a little more difficult to find in some areas (and a little smaller) -- so feel free to use what you can find.

Off with her head!

Before roasting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then peel off the excess skin (not all of it, just the loose skin) and cut off the top part of the bulb (about a quarter to half an inch). The goal is to make it easier to get out of your baking dish once it's finished. But you don't have to discard the tips if you don't want to. For extra roasted garlic, toss them into the baking dish, too. Just make sure you keep an eye on them. Since they're smaller, they may start to burn before the rest of the garlic is roasted.

Season it up

Place the garlic in a shallow baking dish (or in muffin tins) large enough to hold the number of cloves (and tips, if desired) you'd like to roast. Drizzle the cloves with olive oil (about 2 teaspoons each). You'll want to pour the oil directly into the heads so each clove gets the attention it needs and use your finger or a basting brush to ensure the oil is evenly distributed. If desired, salt and pepper each head.

Into the oven

Cover your dish tightly with aluminum foil. (If you're using a muffin tin, you may prefer to wrap the individual heads with foil or parchment paper.) If you're roasting your tips, as well, start checking them after 25 minutes. The heads should take around 30 or 45 minutes (depending on size).

The garlic is done when it's soft enough to mash a clove with a fork. Allow the heads to sit until they're cool enough to touch. Use a pairing knife to score around the individual cloves. Then, using a cocktail fork or your fingers, pull or squeeze the cloves out.

Tips for using roasted garlic

  • Spread alone or with butter on toasted French bread.
  • Mix with mashed avocado and spread on well-toasted seven-grain bread.
  • Mix well with a softened, cut-up stick of butter, pour the mixture onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and roll it into a log -- sushi-style. Twist the ends tightly and refrigerate for several hours. Use it for garlic toast, a baked potato topper and more!

More recipes using garlic

Garlic confit recipe and five ways to use it
50-Clove garlic soup recipe
Herb and garlic rubbed prime rib recipe

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.