Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making Roasted Garlic Puree

I love garlic in all forms, especially fresh--which is the best way to take advantage of all its healthful properties.

Roasting garlic tames the sharp edge a bit, mellowing and enriching its flavor. This also helps tone down that potentially date-wrecking, kiss-repellent issue (although not entirely--be advised!). Below is a recipe for roasted garlic puree, from the "Jump Starts" section in Speed Vegan. In the picture, I'm also getting ready to roast some tomatoes for a sauce (don't be confused--I'm not cooking either of these items on the stove; I just have a small kitchen and all the counter space was spoken for). Note that the tomatoes are going to be roasted uncovered, on a single sheet of parchment (to avoid aluminum contamination from contact with the baking sheet). The garlic will be sealed in a package made from ten layers of aluminum foil, rumpled a bit to create little air pockets, which will act as a heat buffer to help prevent the garlic from burning--again, with a sheet of parchment between the aluminum and the food.

In this picture, I've added some sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme right before sealing the package--just a last minute whim. The herb flavor in the finished puree is subtle, overwhelmed by the garlic, but it's definitely there. You'll get more bang for your herbs if you chop them fresh and add them after the roasted garlic has cooled a little.

Here's the basic recipe:

Roasted Garlic Puree
Makes about 2 cups
Chances are good that you won’t be eating this by itself, but it’s a wonderful flavor enrichment for soups, sauces, and salad dressings. In fact, you’ll be surprised how fast a couple of cups will disappear. Like Garlic Oil (page 38), this is an excellent vampire repellent (go ahead, laugh—I’ve never been bitten). Unfortunately, this can also repel people, but I’ve found that including a good amount of fresh parsley in the same dish will significantly mitigate the dragon-breath effect. I’m told it’s the chlorophyll that does the trick.

2 cups peeled garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
            Trim the root ends off the garlic cloves. Toss the garlic in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Stack 10 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil on a work surface, rumpling them slightly, so that they don’t lie exactly flat. The idea behind this is to create some air pockets, which act as a heat buffer to prevent the garlic from burning. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top. Pile the garlic mixture into a nice mound in the middle of the paper and fold the entire stack over it, folding and crimping the edges to form a tight seal.
            Place the package in the oven and roast for about an hour, turning the oven down to 325 degrees F for the last 15 minutes. Remove the package from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
            Open the package and slip the roasted garlic into a food processor along with any accumulated juices. Process to a smooth puree. Scrape into a jar or small bowl and cover tightly; roasted garlic puree will last several weeks in the refrigerator.
            In case any of this is still mysterious (like the folding and crimping procedure), you can watch this video demonstration on YouTube.

Note: As a variation, you can add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or other herbs to the garlic before roasting.

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