For the occasion when raw garlic is just a bit too edgy, try roasting it. Roasted garlic takes on a completely different flavor. It is sweet and rich, and great in dips like hummus in place of minced garlic, or spread directly on a steak. If you are having a small dinner party, place a few roasted heads of garlic around a warm baguette fresh out of the oven and let your guests serve themselves! I often take advantage when my oven is already on, and roast a head or two of garlic while baking something else. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
To roast a head of garlic, first remove the extra papery layers by pulling at them. Hold it with the root side down, and just use your fingers and thumbs like you are massaging it, pushing the paper from the top down toward the root. You do not have to remove them all, but it helps in the next step to remove some.
Turn the head on its side, and using a serrated knife, carefully slice off the tops of each clove. Make sure you get them all!
Place the garlic, cut-side up, on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the open cloves, and seal the foil. If you are making more than one head of garlic at a time, seal them in separate foils. Place in a small baking dish or on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast at 375 for 45 minutes. If your oven is already cooking a higher heat – anywhere up to 425 – that will work out too. It is done when the cloves are soft and darken – carefully open the foil and take a peek to make sure.
When you are ready to use the garlic, just pop the cloves out using a small knife (I use one that came with a set of small cheese knives), or if you are using the whole head, just squeeze it!