An interesting fact about garlic is that it is a close relative of the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. It has been used for thousands of years and is intertwined with many traditions. Greek soldiers were fed garlic before they were sent off to war, and when provided by the Gods, it is said to give Korean women supernatural powers and immortality. In modern literature, it has even been used as a weapon against vampires. All these myths and beliefs about garlic are not unfounded, and originate from the many wonderful properties garlic possesses.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may help prevent several other ailments, including heart disease and cancer. Apart from its medicinal value, its primary usage is to flavor food. Roasted garlic is the ideal option for those who find it too pungent, as roasting it mellows the pungency and brings out a nutty flavor. Added to food, it can completely revolutionize a dish. You can roast it in the following ways.
In the Oven
- Start by preheating the oven to 400 °F. A bulb of garlic has many layers, which you need to peel away, leaving the skins of each clove intact. Now, slice off about ¼-½ inch of the top of the cloves using a sharp knife, so that each clove is exposed.
- Place the garlic bulbs, cut side up, in a baking pan. Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil over each bulb, and spread it with your fingers all over it. Cover the tray with aluminum foil, and turn it over the edges so that it will stay in place.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes; within this time the cloves should turn tender. Once the cloves are cool to touch, delicately cut the skins of the cloves with a small knife.
- They will open up, allowing you to retrieve each clove with your fingers or a cocktail fork. If you like, you can feast on them immediately or can add them to any dish you plan to prepare.
On the Grill
- Heat the grill over medium-high heat.
- Peel the outer layers of the skin from the garlic bulb, and slice off about ¼-½ inch of the top of each clove.
- Stir together some olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and dip the cut side of the bulb in it. Use your fingers to smear the rest of the bulb with the mixture, and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Double wrap the garlic bulbs in a foil, and lower the heat on the grill to medium.
- Place the wrapped garlic over indirect heat, and roast it for 30-45 minutes. Keep turning the packet as the garlic roasts. It is done when it turns soft.
In the Microwave Oven
- Peel the garlic and slice off the top.
- Lightly brush or drizzle the exposed part of the bulbs with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil.
- Place paper towels in the microwave, and the garlic heads on them, cut side up.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute, then turn the bulb upside down, and microwave for another minute.
- If the garlic cloves feel tender (spreadable), then they are done. If not so, microwave on high for another 15-30 seconds.
- Take the garlic and paper towels out of the microwave. Once the garlic is cool to touch, gently separate the cloves, and squeeze the base gently so that roasted cloves pop out of the skin.
As you can see, roasting garlic is quite easy. While some people enjoy it dipped in butter, it tastes wonderful spread on lightly toasted bread, as well.