There’s something to be said for garlic. It can be delicate, it can be understated, it can be downright…pushy.
One spring, I stood by and watched my uncle clear out the back flowerbed. He tilled the soil, spread the fertilizer, and unwittingly inspired decades of enduring trauma by chucking an earthworm at my face. After my squalling subsided, he graciously allowed me to place a few pearly bulbs of white garlic into the loam.
We rejoiced when the feathery green tendrils pushed their way to the sun after weeks of diligent watering. Back then, the drought was not nearly as pressing as it is now, and thunderstorms rolled their way across the pasture with ease. Uncle Chris harvested the garlic, slipping and tying each bulb into questionably-acquired stockings, and hanging them from the porch posts to dry.
The following year, nothing was planted and the flowerbed lay fallow; until, green spikes broke the ground once more. First, it was one clump; then, it became two. Two became twenty, and our landscaping thereafter consisted of garlic, garlic, and more garlic, with only the occasional flash of lilac. To the family, it was a veritable weed that could never be conquered; to me, the subtle aroma of its delicate white blossoms meant the comfort of the country, and of home.
As aggressive as it can be, garlic has a softness that can be coaxed out of it when handled a certain type of way. It likes heat—but not too much, not too fast—as any romantic dance between passionate lovers can quickly burn itself out.
Low and slow is the key to this recipe for roasted garlic. It’s about as simple a treatment you can give to garlic, but it yields flavors of such complexity, it tastes like a special occasion. All you need is whole fresh garlic, a hot oven, foil, and good cooking oil like our Premium Pecan Oil. Roasting mellows out the “bite” of the garlic as it caramelizes, reducing each clove to a buttery-soft texture. Using pecan oil rather than canola or olive oil adds a layer of nuttiness and umami to the roasted garlic, which is versatile enough to be mixed into dips or slathered across a humble crostini.
Begin by preheating your oven and adjusting a rack to the middle. While the oven comes to temperature, peel away the outer skin of the garlic bulb while leaving the cloves attached. Carefully slice off the pointed end of the garlic bulb—but only just enough to expose the inner portion of each clove. If any of the cloves are still intact, take your knife and nick off the top of each.
Tear a square of aluminum foil or baking paper large enough to enclose the garlic bulb. Place the bulb in the middle of the square, cut side up, and drizzle pecan oil on the exposed cloves until each cut is coated. No additional seasoning is needed; however, if you’d like, a few sprigs of fresh herbs and a pinch of freshly-cracked black pepper offer dimension of flavor.
Tightly wrap each bulb and place on the middle rack to roast for 40 to 60 minutes. I like to throw a garlic satchel or two in with my main dish as it bakes as an accompaniment, two-birds-one-stone style. Resist the urge to peek and trust the process!
When time is up, pull the packets from the oven with tongs and allow to rest for a bit while still in the satchel. When ready, carefully peel open the satchel away from your face—heavenly-smelling steam is still steam! When gently squeezed, each golden-brown clove should slip easily from its skin.
Our favorite application for roasted garlic is blended into a bit of sour cream and mayo for a Mediterranean garlic dip (toum) that’s perfect for pitas and kebabs. You could easily slip a few cloves into loaded mashed potatoes, blend into butter, or simply spread on a bit of toasted baguette.
Decades later, my aunt still recoils at the thought of mounds of sautéed garlic dribbled into her pasta, dredging up memories of the successive years of pungent stalks creeping halfway across the county; yet, in my household, it is relished daily. Almost as important in a marriage as congruent religious and political beliefs, I am thankful that my husband’s Mediterranean roots ensure that garlic is just as much in his love language as it is mine, and what beautiful poetry does it write.
Pecan Oil Whole-Roasted Garlic
- 1 bulb fresh garlic
- 1 tsp. Hoot-n-Annie Pecan Company Premium Pecan Oil
- 1 pinch sea salt (optional)
- 1 pinch cracked black pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Peel away the papery outer skin of one whole garlic bulb, leaving the cloves attached.
- Carefully slice off the pointed end of the garlic bulb to expose the inner portion of each clove. If any of the cloves are still intact, use a knife to cut the remaining tops.
- Tear a square of aluminum foil or baking paper large enough to enclose the garlic bulb, then place the bulb in the center of the square, cut side up.
- Drizzle pecan oil on the exposed cloves until the cut portions are fully coated, spreading with a small pastry brush if needed.
- Optional: Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, cracked black pepper, and/or a sprig of your favorite fresh herb.
- Tightly wrap each bulb and place satchel on the middle rack to roast.
- Roast approximately 40 to 60 minutes.
- When finished, carefully remove the satchel with cooking tongs and place on a heat-safe surface. Allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes.
- After resting, unwrap the satchel, exposing the roasted bulb. Each clove should be soft and golden-brown.
- Remove cloves using a fork or by gently squeezing the root portion of the bulb. Add to mashed potatoes, blend with mayo as a garlic dip, or schmear on crostini as desired!