For extra flavor, roast the garlic and shallots
The mellower taste comes from a long, slow turn in the oven.
Garlic and shallots are the backbone of a good sauce, soup, casserole and stew, adding substantial flavors that permeate the entire dish. And, given a chance, these ancient vegetables shine on their own when roasted with a little oil and a lot of herbs. That snappy flavor of fresh bulbs, whose bite is essential to salads and vinaigrettes, mellows and sweetens with low, slow heat as the garlic and shallots turn golden and silky.
When roasting them, it’s best to use the freshest bulb. Both the hard neck garlic (large, spicy cloves) and the soft neck (smaller, milder cloves) grow well in our region. Our local shallots are fat, juicy and mild, easy to handle and they make a fine match. When snugged together in the roasting pan, the more assertive garlic and sweet, mild shallot strike a nice balance. But you can choose to roast just one or the other.
This dish is terrific served as a side to roast beef, grilled pork chops or roast chicken. Or, purée the cloves and serve atop pizza or polenta; toss it with pasta, or stir it into rice.
The purée is also delicious whisked into cream cheese or chèvre to spread on bruschetta or sandwiches. Swirl it into sour cream, Greek yogurt, or hummus for a dip. Add a spoonful or two to boost soups, stews and sauces.
This recipe is easily doubled, keeps for a week and freezes beautifully. The roasty scents of these humble bulbs stir late fall hunger and promise good things soon to come.
Recipe: Herb-Roasted Garlic and Shallots
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: Straightforward and easy, this recipe yields magnificent results. You can choose to roast just the garlic or the shallots by themselves, but they are especially delicious when roasted together. The puréed garlic will keep several days, covered, in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.
• 5 to 6 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
• 2 medium shallots, cloves, cut in half horizontally
• 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the garlic and shallots cut side up in baking pan or ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the thyme over the garlic and shallots, drizzle with the oil, and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the cloves are very soft, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting until the cloves are golden, another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the cloves.
To serve, present the whole garlic halves and shallots in their skin on a serving plate. Or, squeeze the garlic and shallots from the heads into a food processor fitted with steel blade and purée.
Use on the side of meats, or purée and serve atop pizza, polenta or pasta, or stirred into rice. Also good whisked into cream cheese or chèvre and spread on bruschetta or sandwiches. A spoonful or two boosts soups, stews and sauces.