Sorry about the late blog entry: It started out about chickpeas, but I had to add a little something about its most vital secret ingredient: roasted garlic. That’s when this post took on a life of its own. Poor garlic – it’s the most shunned foods of all date menus, but you just know that a meal without garlic is somehow missing something.
Garlic: The “stinking rose” of the culinary world
The summer before I moved to Toronto, I visited with my friend Arielle, who was rooming in a house not far from the U of T campus. The evening I came to visit, we decided to cook together, a quick cooking stir-fry that would leave the rest of the evening for the important business of friendship: drinking and giggling.
The recipe called for some paltry amount, I think it was one or maybe even (gasp!) two whole cloves for a meal for two. We rolled our eyes. Did the recipe author even like garlic? What’s the point of putting such a small amount in the recipe, we mocked. “More garlic!” we shrieked – and we tripled the amount of garlic.
In short, that fifteen minute stir fry used up a whole head of garlic, and caused the owners of the house to come down to the kitchen to check if the paint had peeled itself off the walls. According to Arielle, we were dubbed “The Garlic Girls” by the rest of the house for the duration of her stay. One roommate joked that Arielle and I would be vampire-free for the next couple of days, and the other roommates just avoided us entirely.
Fresh garlic, or partially cooked/stir fried garlic is always way more potent than cooked garlic, so for those alliumphobics out there, don’t worry. Roasted Garlic – AKA The Best Secret Ingredient Ever – is actually pretty tame. However, it is the gateway drug to a full-on addiction to garlic. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The great thing about roasted garlic is that it can be used in almost anything from soups, dips, salads – even just as its own as an hors d’oeuvre, served with fresh bread or crackers.
Roasted Garlic – The Ultimate Secret Ingredient
Keep this stuff in your fridge for a maximum of two weeks, or else freeze it. Roasted garlic does pose a risk of producing botulism toxin, so don’t store it in oil, like a fancy-looking salad dressing. When you’re adding it to your chickpea salad or dip, keep it refrigerated until just before you serve it. If you can’t finish all the roasted garlic, wrap in foil or a BPA-free plastic container, and store it in your freezer.
- 3 heads of roasted garlic
- Enough aluminum foil to wrap the heads
- Olive oil, brushed generously over each head.
- First, preheat your oven to 350F.
- Remove one layer of loose papery skin from the head; you don’t want to peel it completely, just get the extra stuff out of the way.
- Turn that garlic on its side, and cut off the pointier, stem end of the garlic head. This will help get the olive oil in between the cloves and help caramelize the cloves as they roast. The flat bottomed, often woody base will hold all the cloves together as it bakes, so don’t cut off that portion.
- Set the head down on a cookie sheet with a length of aluminum foil, and brush it generously with oil.
Photo by “Darnok” of Morguefile.com
The cut side should look like the photo above; just put the cut side up, and leave approximately one or two inches of space between each head of garlic. Loosely fold up the ends of the foil, keeping a few inches of space . You want the garlic heads steamed in their own juices, so leave a little room for air to move around inside that foil package.
Bake in the oven for an hour, take it out of the oven and let it cool, if you’re going to use it in a dip or as a condiment. If it’s still warm, it’s amazing on fresh bread, and makes an amazing appetizer. Make sure your date and/or table mates get in on that roasted garlic action, too: Garlic breath is un-noticed when shared.
- 5 heads for $1, so three heads only cost less than .20. Because my math skills are poor, let’s round it up to 20 cents per head of garlic, or say it’s a full buck if you’ve decided to save time in your near future and have roasted garlic on hand like the fancy pants foodies out there always seem to have at the ready.
- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil – if you’re fancy: Longos Novello Extra Virgin Olive Oil at $14.99 for 500ml, or if you’re me: The No Frills 3 litre metal jug bought on sale for $17.
The Final Product, Tallied and Compared:
Fancy Pants EVOO* (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Version:$2.33, net
$1.33 for 3 tablespoons + $1 for five heads of garlic = $2.33 total.(Note that I didn’t calculate the cost of aluminum foil here. How do I know you’re not an Extreme Hoarder who saves every scrap of used foil, and re-uses toothpaste?) Still, it’s more affordable than going to that restaurant with the unpronounceable name and a year-long reservation waiting list.
Cheap-Ass Real Life Version: $1.83, net. My hubby the math whiz, tallied it this way: 3 tablespoons of the No Frills olive comes to 0.83 cents total for all three tablespoons. So, not counting the cost of electricity to use your toaster oven for an hour during off-peak hours, added to the cost of the buck’s worth of garlic, this is the cheapest you’d get for roasted garlic.
Store Bought Version: $8 for a single head of roasted garlic from a restaurant in downtown Toronto that I’m not allowed to name. (You’re paying for the chef’s time, skill and the venue’s hydro bill, presumably.)
* EVOO sounds like a cow affecting a posh accent to impress lesser bovines. “Darling, ‘moo’ is so passé. Any cow who is anyone is lowing ‘evooooo!’ now.”