Roasted garlic is mellow and warming. Its delicate undertones enhance the flavor of salads and meats. Here, I give you a recipe for pairing roasted garlic with olive oil to flavor your favorite toasted bread.
Roasted Garlic on Toast
Yield 15-20 slices of toast
Choose good-size garlic bulbs with big cloves for this recipe—big cloves are easier to work with and save time. A well-matured garlic head that has been cured and dried will be firm, dry, and have a paper-like crackly skin. Inside each head are smaller individually-wrapped sections called cloves. Be sure to choose heads that have not begun to sprout.
Good crusty bread is called for in this recipe. You’ll want bread that is a solid match for both the roasted garlic and olive oil. Ciabatta is a good choice. Ciabatta is an Italian-origin bread. It can have a crisp crust and a somewhat soft, porous texture, that is light to the touch, or it can be firm crusted and dense—the difference depends on the baker and the region of Italy that inspired her.
Extra-virgin olive oil is your best choice for this recipe. Extra-virgin olive oil is oil that has been separated from the olive without the use of heat, hot water, or solvents—and it is unfiltered. It is oil from the first pressing of the olives. It is the purest and most flavorful.
- 2-3 heads garlic
- 2-3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided (to flavor garlic cloves)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 loaf ciabatta or other crusty bread, sliced ¼-inch thick
- About ¼-⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil (to coat bread at end)
- Preheat the oven to 375°.
- Hold each head of garlic upright, root side down. Peel off the dry papery outer skin of each head then use a kitchen scissor or paring knife to cut away the top of each head just enough to expose the cloves—but do not separate the cloves from the head.
- Place the heads root side down in a small baking dish or heavy oven-proof pan that will hold them upright. If you are roasting just a couple of heads you can use a girdle of aluminum foil to hold them upright in the dish or pan.
- Add chicken broth or water and olive oil to the baking dish to a depth of ¼ inch. Drizzle the head with ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. For more flavor, add a couple of sprigs of thyme or savory and a few peppercorns if you like. Cover the dish or pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake or 20 minutes or so. After 20 minutes, pull back the aluminum foil cover and drizzle each garlic head with another ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil. Recover the baking dish and bake another 20 minutes. Bake until the garlic is soft, tender, and easily pierced with a thin-bladed knife—about 40 to 60 minutes. When tender, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and roast uncovered for another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Once the garlic is tender, remove the baking dish from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450°. Squeeze the garlic cloves from garlic heads (or pop cloves out with knife) into a bowl. Mash garlic with a fork.
- Adjust the oven rack so that it is at least 4 inches from the heat source. Brush the bread on one or both sides with a little olive oil. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake, broil (top), or grill (bottom) until lightly browned on each side, 4 to 8 minutes, turning over once. Be careful not to burn or toast the bread all the way through.
- Spread each piece of toasted bread with a tablespoon or so of mashed garlic puree; rub one or both sides of each slice with garlic until it all but disappears into the bread. Sprinkle with additional olive oil and salt and pepper if you like.
It’s always best to serve roasted garlic on toasted bread while hot. Serve with goat cheese and olives if you like.