Garlic (Allium sativum) is an essential ingredient used by cooks everywhere. It’s easy to grow, and because it’s adaptable to many climates, it can be found in home gardens around the world.

Roasted garlic appetizer

Roasted cloves can be slipped from their skins easily and spread onto crusty herb bread or crackers for a warm and tasty appetizer.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Preparing roasted garlic

To get started, peel away the loose, papery skins and slice or cut the points off each garlic clove.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

Roasted garlic with herbs

Drizzle each clove with a little olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite dried herbs.

Photo Credit: Jodi Torpey

There are two kinds of garlic: hardneck and softneck. Hardneck garlic produces a flower stalk called a scape. The garlic is easy to peel and can be stored for 3-6 months. Softneck garlic doesn’t produce a flower stalk, so all the plant’s energy goes toward growing larger bulbs in the ground. Softneck garlic is what’s usually available at the grocery store and can be stored for up to a year.

When selecting fresh garlic to use in the kitchen, pick large bulbs that have a good number of cloves. Choose bulbs that are heavy for their size and that have no blemishes or soft spots.

One of my favorite uses for my homegrown garlic is baked and served as a spread on crusty bread or crackers. This is a simple-to-prepare recipe, but the tantalizing fragrance of the baking garlic is enough to make a hungry crowd hang around the kitchen, waiting for the moment this delicious appetizer is pulled from the oven.

Baked Garlic Spread

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 whole garlic bulbs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dried herbs, like oregano or leaf thyme

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the loose, papery skins off your garlic bulbs, then, keeping the bulbs intact, carefully slice off the points of each clove to expose the tops of the garlic. Place your bulbs in a garlic baker or wrap them in foil (with the tops still exposed) and place in a baking dish. Lightly drizzle each clove with olive oil, then sprinkle with the herb(s) of your choice. Cover the garlic baker (or close the top of the foil bundle) and bake for about 45 minutes. When time is up, remove the garlic baker lid or carefully open the foil. Return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving.

Cloves can be squeezed from their skins and spread onto bread or crackers. This great appetizer is as easy as it is delicious. Try it at your next holiday party or social gathering – it’s sure to please (unless, of course, you’re a vampire…).