How To Roast Garlic – A Rose By Any Other Name (FAK Friday)

How To Roast Garlic - tutorial
How To Roast Garlic

Garlic is kind of like the bad-boy of the vegetable world. Known for its stink, its pungent bite, its ferocious ability to ward off vampires and demons… and yet despite its bad reputation, Garlic is every foodie’s secret crush. The unassuming bulb, so innocent in appearance, has even earned itself the name of “stinking rose”.

And yet… what is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still stink as sweet!

I grew up in a house where the words “you can never have too much garlic” were said often, and with great sincerity. It isn’t true, of course… you can most definitely have too much raw, bitter garlic in one meal. But sweet, warm, roasted garlic, on the other hand? Now that’s another story!

It’s FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge), and this week I thought I’d show you how to make one of my all-time favorite things, roasted garlic. We all know garlic can overpower a dish with its pungent, sometimes spicy flavor, but with a quick sit in the oven garlic takes on a whole new quality of rich, sweet, melt-in-your-mouthness. Yes, you heard me. I love to use roasted garlic in homemade pesto, garlic butter, or stirred together with olive oil and brushed onto bread to make croutons, or tossed into pasta. In fact, there’s really no wrong way to use it!

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How To Roast Garlic

How To Roast Garlic

Garlic is a member of the allium family, meaning that it is a cousin to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives… basically, it’s the stinky little brother of the family. Besides its common culinary uses, garlic has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes. Ancient people dubbed the plant as a cure-all, using it to fix all kinds of ailments, and in more recent years studies have revealed more and more evidence of garlic’s healing properties. It has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties, and has been used to treat everything from high cholesterol and blood pressure, to scurvy, gangrene, and even AIDS! Okay, let’s not get too carried away… many of these health claims are still up for debate, but there is no denying that garlic has a lot of good going for it, both in and out of the kitchen.

The downside, of course, is the pungent aroma that can hang around well after the garlic itself is gone. When raw garlic is cut, crushed, or chewed, it releases a sulfurous chemical called allicin. Allicin is a big component of garlic’s spicy bite, but is also responsible for its anti-fungal properties. When garlic is cooked, the allicin is released, leaving the garlic much sweeter and more mellow in both smell and flavor. Of course, if you plan to rub a bunch of garlic on an open wound in the hopes of avoiding an infection you’d be better off with raw… but since you probably aren’t going to do that, let’s get to roasting, shall we?

Step 1

Step 1, How To Roast Garlic

Start with some garlic. Scratch that, start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F.

Now grab some garlic. Big whole bulbs are great for roasting just peel away as much of the loose, papery outer skin as you can (it tends to burn), and lop off their heads – err, cut the top end of the bulb off to reveal the cluster of cloves inside. Or, if you prefer to roast just a little garlic, pull off as many cloves as you want, and peel them.

Step 2

Step 2, How To Roast Garlic

Grab a piece of foil and set your cut bulb (or peeled cloves) onto it. Drizzle with a couple teaspoons of good quality olive oil, and wrap the foil up around the garlic to seal it in a nice tight ball. You can set these on a tray or baking dish, but I’m quite fond of using a muffin tin to hold the bundles of foil in place.

Place on the center rack of your preheated oven, and let them roast for about 35-40 minutes, or until the garlic is nice and soft, and the sweet wafting aroma has filled your entire house. (If you’re doing just a few cloves, instead of full bulbs, reduce the cook time by 15-20 minutes.) Be sure to let the packets cool sufficiently before opening them up, because there’s a lot of pent up steam just waiting to burn your fingers off. If you must open the foil to check on the garlic, I suggest an oven mitt on one hand and a long fork or other utensil in the other.

(Update: if you’re like me, and want to roast your garlic in the middle of summer but don’t want to run the oven, you can throw your foil pouches onto the grill over low, indirect heat instead. Just be sure to keep them away from the flame so they don’t burn!)

Step 3

Step 3, How To Roast Garlic

Once the garlic is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, go ahead and unwrap those bad boys. The first thing you’ll want to do with your roasted garlic is rub it all over like perfume, but trust me when I say it’s better off in your food than on your face… and clothes… and everything.

So how should you use your roasted garlic, you ask? Besides the perfume idea, I’m not sure how you shouldn’t use it. To remove the soft, golden jewels cloves, you can either squeeze the bulb at its base and watch the goodness ooze out like a tube of toothpaste, or you can pluck individual cloves out with a fork or toothpic.

Because it’s so much mellower than raw garlic, I find that I can double the amount I would otherwise need for most recipes. I always use roasted garlic in homemade pestos (like this one), and it adds wonderful depth of flavor to soups and sauces. Whole roasted cloves are amazing on pizza, or tossed with bread and olive oil to make croutons, or mashed with fresh herbs into softened butter, or mixed into mashed potatoes, or simply spread directly onto toast with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. When garlic is this good, there is no wrong way to eat it!

What’s your favorite way to use garlic? I’d love to know!

 

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38 Responses to How To Roast Garlic – A Rose By Any Other Name (FAK Friday)

  1. Foodie Stuntman March 16, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    I love roasted garlic!

    • Willow March 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      Hard not to, isn’t it? ;)

  2. Anonymous March 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    nice – I don’t put them in foil, just put them on a cookie sheet with olive oil drizzle. I can see where wrapping them might help retain the moisture. Do you think it would work in a small covered dish? I hate wasting foil if a small covered casserole will work just as well.

    • Willow March 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      Yes, a covered casserole dish should work fine. Anything to lock in the moister. :)

  3. Loretta E. March 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Since I’ve been sick lately, I’ve been eating at least a clove of raw garlic daily and I secretly love it. I don’t think my hubby is a fan, but he doesn’t complain…

    Great idea to use it to make croutons! And I just made sourdough bread, which would be perfect!

    • Willow March 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      Mmm, fresh sourdough is the perfect canvas for roasted garlic! Hope you feel better soon.

  4. movita beaucoup March 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    GAWD, I LOVE ROASTED GARLIC. Would marry it if I could.

  5. Eileen March 17, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    I haven’t roasted garlic in FAR too long. We usually go super simple and just eat it on rusty French bread. :)

  6. Anonymous March 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I use two heads of roasted garlic when I make my homemade hummus recipe – it turns out amazing!

    • Willow March 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

      Sounds delicious!

  7. Anonymous March 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    I like adding some red pepper flakes.

  8. shannon weber March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    I knew we would get to roasting garlic eventually! I just had a feeling; all this great information on FAK Fridays led me to believe you would tackle this, and you did! Roasting garlic is so lovely; second only to eating roasted garlic, in my opinion. :) Great post!

  9. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Garlic YES! I love garlic in everything and the freshly grown garlic with the purple skins are my favorite….I can’t remember the variety but it is the BEST garlic ever!!

  10. Carole March 22, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to dishes using garlic. I do hope you link this in. This is the link . Please do check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Cheers

    • Willow March 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Hey – thanks for inviting me to the linkup. Unfortunately, the link to your blog isn’t working at all. In fact, even trying to go directly to your blog, it says the URL has been removed. :/

    • March 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

      It worked for me?

    • Willow March 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      That is weird… tried again and it worked. Added my link, thanks again for the invite! :)

  11. Carole March 23, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    Willow – Blogger blocked my blog for a few hours while I was sleeping – bad Blogger! Glad you managed to link up. Cheers

  12. mel s March 24, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    how do you store the roasted garlic and what is the shelf life? do you think i could can it in olive oil?

    • Willow March 25, 2013 at 1:26 am #

      You can keep the whole bulb wrapped in foil in the fridge for a few days, or remove the cloves from the bulb and freeze them pretty indefinitely. I haven’t tried storing it in any other way, but after some quick internet searches I see that some people do store it in oil, but only for a week or so. You have to be careful, because garlic stored in olive oil can potentially be a source of botulism… as far as I know, it has to be kept refrigerated at all times, and shouldn’t be stored for extended periods of time. I don’t know about canning… I’d suggest researching the topic more before going ahead with it.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Weber Grill Recipes March 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    That’s tasty looking! Love this roasted garlic..

  14. Val Hopkins November 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    A good investment is a terra cotta garlic roaster if you’re in the habit of only roasting one bulb at a time. I also highly recommend two other things: using pure, not extra virgin olive oil, as it’s better for higher temps, whereas the extra virgin oil is better for using in salad dressing. Also try using INFUSED olive oils, such as basil infused, rosemary infused, etc. Being a greaseball, I enjoy eating an entire clove as a sweet treat, or spread on gourmet crackers.

    • Willow Arlen November 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Good advice about the olive oil, Val! I’ll have to try it with infused oils sometime, that’s a great idea!

  15. Pam Uhlenkott December 12, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    we roast garlic and squeee it out and just eat it. you smell bad for weeks but it is sooo good

    • Willow Arlen December 13, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      Haha, I do the same thing! Sooo worth it.

  16. JL December 27, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Why does elephant garlic when roasted turn green?

    • Willow Arlen December 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi JL — how strange! I’ve never personally experienced this, but I did a quick search on the subject and this is what I found (from David Stern, an organic vegetable farmer, from Fine Cooking):

      “The discoloration of fresh garlic that you describe is a long-standing mystery for both cook and chemist. As you read this, scientists are working to unravel the secrets of this chemical curiosity.
      Although not yet fully understood, we do know some things about this phenomenon: The blue-green discoloration is most commonly seen when garlic is exposed to highly acidic conditions, typically caused by the presence of vinegar. The cause is believed to be a reaction between the vinegar (or other acidic ingredient) and the proteins or sulfites in the garlic. It has nothing to do with photosynthesis or chlorophyll. The reaction seems to occur more often with hardneck (topset) garlic varieties than with softneck types. When the reaction occurs with one garlic clove, it won’t necessarily happen with all of the remaining cloves from the same bulb.
      Our culture does indeed lack blue foods, but while it may be startling to behold, blue garlic is perfectly safe and delicious to eat. I don’t know of any sure-fire way of preventing discoloration, but you might try reducing the amount of vinegar in the recipe or experimenting with other lower-acid ingredients, such as lemon juice or wine.” – David Stern

      So to sum up, no one knows why it changes color, but it seems to be perfectly harmless and still good to eat. Thanks for your comment, I learned something today!

  17. Carol February 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    I want so bad to grow my own garlic. I use it on just about everything.

    • Willow Arlen February 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      Growing your own garlic would be so cool! If I had more of a green thumb, I would definitely try it. :)

  18. Cindy reetz April 17, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    Why did i not do this sooner. My nonna used to roast garlic when i was a child. Now i know why. Thank you very much. Cindy.

    • Willow Arlen April 18, 2016 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks Cindy — isn’t roasted garlic the best?!

  19. Teresa Kay May 25, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    Mmm! I threw mine on the grill with a little pepper and salt, and wha-la!

  20. Lori Montagna March 5, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    I’m cooking up another batch of these beauties today. They’ll go in with roasted broccoli and some of my olive oil infused with hot peppers and herbs. I’ll use my live winter window box basil and parsley, and add some shrimp and sea scallops, nicely browned in a big pan on the stove top. I’ll serve it over some spaghetti and top it with freshly grated locatelli.
    As I’m writing this, there’s about a dozen roses cooking in the oven, and the house smells so good I can barely stand it!!
    I thought you’d like to know I use many of your recipes and FAK tips quite often! I’ve been roasting garlic this way for years now since I first found this. I like to have it handy to use in many different recipes, including some spiral veggie dishes. Thanks again Willow, for all your great ideas and recipes! We’re really enjoying them here on Long Island!!

    • Willow Arlen March 13, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Lori! That sounds amazing. And I’m so happy to know my tips have been helpful for you!

  21. Jessica July 23, 2017 at 4:37 am #

    I went to a restaurant once that had a bulb of roasted garlic served with fresh hot italian bread and a small dish of olive oil. Smear a clove of freshly roasted garlic on your piece of bread and drizzle with olive oil.. mm perfetto! My new favorite way to eat garlic

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