It’s been cold here lately, with autumn weather really putting a nip in the air. When the weather turns cold I head to the library - what happens when I go to the library ?
Cookbooks .. I can’t help myself. I try to restrict myself to one or two, but I always end up taking as many as I can possibly carry. This particular day I did not have a bag, so this was as many as my arms could hold without giving myself a hernia.
I’m having an Italian fling at the moment, with food at least. I’ve recently been picturing myself on the back of a Vespa whizzing past curved doorways with attractively aged paint, and eating warm Roma tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh summer basil .. but .. back to reality!
We followed the trip to the library with an afternoon tea at one of our regular haunts. I noticed they had garlic purée with olive and rosemary bread on the menu for roughly $8.00, which honestly I think is horrendously expensive. But despite the price I ordered it anyway to see what could possibly deserve that price tag. It was pretty good - but not $8.00 worth as far as I could work out. A tiny pot of garlic purée and three slices of bread. I decided to go home and make it myself for a whole lot less and satisfy some of my cravings for something Italian.
Normally we grow our own garlic - but last year we did not get the garlic into the garden, it should be planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest, but I had this wonderful pink local garlic to roast instead, almost as good.
If you are going to roast garlic at home choose a strongly flavoured garlic to get the most flavour from it. Some garlics are stronger than others, I’m sure you’ll know what your best local variety is.
For those of you thinking this looks like it might be a little strong I want to reassure you that roasted garlic is a completely different kettle of fish to garlic cooked any other way. It undergoes a miraculous transformation, a little like Cinderella when she’s dressed for the ball, even her step sisters don’t know who she is, she looks so different.
It’s sweet and sticky with a mellow flavour, and once you start eating it. it’s very hard to stop! It can be eaten as is, or stirred into dressings and added to sauces and dishes to add a whole new dimension.
This might be very simple, but this is real evidence that simple can be completely amazing.
Roasted Garlic Purée with Rosemary and Sea Salt
Preheat the oven to 180C/350C
- 4 whole heads of good garlic
- a little olive oil
- fresh rosemary
- flaked sea salt
- Ciabatta sliced and toasted
Slice the garlic across the middle and drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the cut side, rub it across the surface of the garlic.
Place the cut garlic on a sheet of foil and seal into a parcel with the cut sides up.
Poke a few holes into the package to release the steam.
Bake for roughly 45 minutes to an hour until the garlic is very soft. Cook time will depend on the size of the heads of garlic.
Cool the garlic and then squeeze the cloves out gently. Mash to a paste on it’s own or purée with a little olive oil.
Toast your Ciabatta and spread your garlic purée over the top, sprinkle with a little sea salt and chopped fresh rosemary - devour hungrily.