Introducing: The Simple Kitchen
Many years ago in college, I got my hands on my mom’s yellowed copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961 by Julia Child, and I would avoid studying to instead spend hours reading through it. This got me into the habit of reading recipe books with full color photos of food, plated and ready to eat. This is a bad idea when hungry.
My favorite chapters from French Cooking were the basics: Stocks, sauces, chopping, roasting, sauteing. Any good meal is the sum of its parts: What is a pesto chicken saute without a good pesto sauce? How did that one restaurant make its roasted garlic tomato sauce on its pasta?
So There’s That introduces “The Simple Kitchen”, an ongoing feature of quick kitchen tricks and hacks that are good enough to stand alone by themselves or go into a much more elaborate dish.
In future entries in The Simple Kitchen, we may talk about that pesto, Mexican salsa, basic crepes, or easy sauces that your guests will applaud. Tired of the same old salad dressing? More to come. And stay tuned for a repertoire of basic appetizers for when you’re pressed for time or on a budget.
Most of all, you will know what to do next time to you walk into a friend’s house and your friend says: “I have nothing in the fridge or the pantry. What can you cook for dinner right now?”
Today we will talk about roasted garlic. Put aside your fears of eating garlic – whether you are afraid of garlic breath or perhaps you may be a vampire. Roasted garlic is mellow and nutty and complex. It is spreadable like peanut butter and dissolves into soups and sauces. It adds flavor to roasted and grilled meats, and it blends effortlessly into a garlicky salad dressing.
In keeping with The Simple Kitchen, roasted garlic is something you can get started in just minutes and then forget about it while you prepare other foods or entertain your guests.
You could even make a several batches on Sunday and dip into it for different uses throughout the week. In our house though, that strategy is unlikely to work as long as Charla knows that there is garlic roasting in the oven.
- 1 head garlic
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Optional: Oregano, pepper flakes, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, pancetta chunks, smoked paprika, cumin
Preheat the oven to 350.
With a sharp knife slice ¼ – ½ inch off the top of the head of garlic. Be sure that almost every clove of garlic is cut and exposed.
Lay garlic, exposed side up, onto a sheet of foil. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and any optional ingredients on top and all around the garlic. Pour a generous amount of very good quality olive oil on top of the garlic. Be sure the every part of the garlic is covered in oil.
Fold the foil tightly so that it is completely sealed. I like to use the method for making empanadas or pastries.
Put foil packet on a cooking sheet and into the oven. Be aware that some oil may leak out, so use a rimmed cookie sheet. Set your timer for 45 minutes and pour yourself a glass of wine.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. When cool enough to touch, open the foil, taking care not to burn your fingers with hot steam – garlic flavored steam – escaping.
With a fork or butter knife, scoop out a clove of roasted garlic. Spread on on a sliced of fresh baguette and enjoy.
Uses for roasted garlic
- Puree into a balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- Simmer into minestrone soup
- Spread under the skin of a chicken before roasting
- Add to tomato sauce for pasta
- Drop chunks of chopped roasted garlic onto pizza as a topping
- Blend into mashed potatoes
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