Three heads of last year’s garlic crop left. The final three. Recent harvests have dwindled due to an as yet unnamed rot, so we’ve decided to give the soil a break and not grow garlic for a while.
Thanks to Bob’s attention to it all we rotate the garlic crop annually as recommended, but something’s gone awry. We hope the elimination of garlic entirely will allow the soil to recompose, rid itself of the bacteria or whatever it is. This will be the first time in years that we haven’t grown our own crop and had braided bunches of it hanging in the pantry or the basement through winter. We can’t cook, can’t live without it – thankfully, there are Farmers Markets.
So this explains the sentimentality . . . we just have these last few heads from our own garden and then it’ll be a long dry spell. We’ll eat ’em straight up: roasted, and slathered on a chunk, many chunks of bread. Oh, you can embellish it with a bowl of soup, a salad, some pasta, a chunk of meat, all lame excuses for simply getting to the garlic. Necessary life enhancement. Garlic.
To roast it, clean off any loose papery layers, slice off the tip end of three or four heads of garlic, place cut side up on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, plenty, and a little salt & pepper. Wrap the foil tightly, roast in a 350º oven for 35 – 45 minutes. It can easily be burned, so keep an eye on it. It’s done when it’s very soft. Remove from the oven and let cool just a bit. Love your garlic by squeezing gently on its root end, causing its roasted, sweetened, mellow pulp to ooze onto the receptacle of your choice. Then promptly have your way with it, or keep it in the fridge and savor it a little at a time in a variety of ways.
Spread directly on to a piece of toasty bread maybe along with some soft local cheese; stir into a bowl of room-temp butter, making the most decadent garlic butter, and then melt or spread over anything you like; squeeze roasted cloves onto pizza or tart dough along with toppings of your choice; into a warm wilted lettuce salad; smash it up with olive oil and add it to a favorite salad dressing; stir it into piping hot pasta along with olive oil and cheese. The sky’s the limit. Roasted garlic in the kitchen is a little pot of culinary gold, almost anything glows lusciously with the addition of a clove or two.
And this stuff is good for you – I say this as I sniffle my way through a cold. Shoulda had the roasted garlic a little sooner. Like alliums in general, garlic, especially aged garlic, is a powerful antioxidant.
Growing your own: when we harvest garlic in June, Bob collects the best looking head of each variety and they’re tucked away for planting in October. Varieties of garlic are as numerous and exotic-sounding as tomatoes. There are longkeepers and shortkeepers, hot or mellow, Spanish Roja, German Red, Silver White, Killarney Red, Rocambole. Inchilium Red, Broadleaf Czech, Susanville, Polish Softneck . . . By planting your own, storing and savoring garlic all year long you participate in ancient culinary and medicinal tradition – we humans have loved garlic (or hated it) for a very long time. Legends, lore, mythology surround this beloved clove. In the meantime just roast it and eat it. Harvesting garlic in the 15th century – thanks to Wikipedia for this graphic.
(More later about growing garlic starting with their harvest in early summer.)