I’d like to share my family’s New Year’s Eve tradition with you. It’s not an old tradition for us because I’m the one that started it. (And I am not old, I swear!) But it seems to have taken hold in our family circle and I certainly plan to continue making and eating it.
What can I say? I make no excuses. Some people jump into icy water with their Polar Bear Club every New Year’s Day–I eat garlic.
ROASTED GARLIC WITH BLACK OLIVE PASTE CANAPES (Serves 4-6)
- Three whole bulbs of garlic
- Olive oil
- Black olive paste or black olive tapenade (found in gourmet and specialty stores)
- Crackers–your choice
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Find well-shaped, full bulbs of garlic, and wipe the outside clean with a damp cloth. You can remove any loose outer skin but we aren’t going to peel the garlic. Make a horizontal cut across the top of the bulb so the tip of each clove is trimmed off 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Place the garlic bulb root end down in a baking dish. If they don’t stand up well, try using a muffin pan or individual ramekins. The trimmed end will be face up. Drizzle olive oil into the bulbs of garlic, getting the oil into the crevices of each clove – about 2 teaspoons per bulb of garlic. Cover the bulbs tightly with aluminum foil and roast them for 40-60 or more minutes. Start checking it after 45 minutes or so. Cooking time depends on the size of the garlic.
These bulbs were very “tight” so about half-way through the cooking when they had loosened up, I drizzled a little more olive oil into them. They took one hour to finish cooking.
The cloves will be very soft when they are done. Stick a fork or chopstick in it to test. They are so soft, you can squeeze the roasted garlic paste right out clove by clove. When the garlic is done roasting, let it cool off enough to handle without getting burnt fingers.
Spread some black olive paste on a cracker and squeeze a garlic clove onto it. Voila! This is a delicious treat and goes well with beer or champagne. (I will serve this with my favorite sparkling mocktail) You could prepare the garlic ahead of time and assemble all the crackers with the toppings just before your guests arrive. We just sit around the table, each with a bulb of roasted garlic and do it ourselves while we wait for the Times Square Ball to drop.
Roasted garlic is quite sweet and nutty and rich. This is very different from raw garlic that is minced or chopped because the more you chop or cut garlic, the more allicin is released. Allicin is what gives you bad garlic breath and when you cook the garlic cloves whole, there is much less allicin.
But I must say, if you eat enough of it (such as a whole bulb in one sitting) you may exude garlicky aroma from every pore of your body for a day or two. Remember–the best defense against having a garlicky odor is, after all, for everyone else to have it too! So invite (your friends, your neighbors, your boss, your customers, your spouse, your date, your Aunt Bessie) to join you!
The simple combination of roasted garlic and black olive paste on a cracker is absolutely divine. You should try it! If you do object to smelling like a South Philly Neighborhood Italian Bistro, eat some parsley to help counteract the garlic. (Honestly, it would take a lot of parsley.)
If the idea of noshing on garlic cloves does not appeal to you at all, there are lots of other ways to use the roasted garlic such as roasting it and extracting the soft cloves to be added to mashed potatoes or to make a unique version of garlic bread or roasted garlic soup. (Now there’s an idea!)
ROASTED GARLIC SOUP (Serves 4)
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 3-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed, wiped clean
- 6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 2 quarts of spring water
- 1 head of escarole, cleaned and chopped into approx 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, packed in water or homemade
- 1 bulb of roasted garlic, extract each clove
- salt & pepper to taste
- traditionally brewed soy sauce if desired
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Broth: I prefer to make my own vegetarian broth for this soup but you can use any broth you like. I think many people would choose a chicken broth or broth made from their leftover turkey carcass.
For vegetable broth there are two ways to go–1) use the cooking water from whatever veggies you have steamed or boiled or 2) intentionally create a broth. Mine is usually a combination depending on the flavor of the vegetable cooking water I have.
Today I had some boiled cauliflower and to that boiling stock I added a large sliced onion, several chopped stalks of celery and a three-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed. I avoided anything that would color or darken the water too much such as carrots or winter squash because I want a clear(ish) broth. I also avoided any vegetable with a very strong character of its own, such as asparagus, because of how it would influence the taste of the stock.
I simmered the onions, celery and kombu for about a half hour and strained out the vegetables and seaweed. The kombu, by the way, adds a great deal of minerals and flavor to the broth. The strained veggies and kombu can be used as a base for another soup or just the veggies–perhaps pureed–as a base for a sauce.
Note we are starting off with two quarts of spring water. By the time you have made your broth and your soup you will have a little more than a quart left. To get a deep enough flavor for this soup, do not add more water unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
Assemble the soup
Chop the red peppers into bite-size pieces. Saute the escarole in olive oil and a pinch of salt until wilted. Add the red peppers and saute a minute or two. Add these to the soup stock.
Take the flat of your knife blade and crush each clove of roasted garlic. You don’t have to do more than just crush each clove open. Add the garlic to the soup. Salt and pepper to taste and/or add a bit of soy sauce. I usually don’t complicate the flavors further by adding herbs or spices to this soup, but you should feel free to experiment. (And let us all know if you find something you liked!) I could be convinced to add a little basil.
Simmer the soup a few minutes to let the flavors get to know each other. Another good way to do this is to turn the heat off and just let the soup rest with the lid on, then gently reheat.
Serve with a garnish of parsley and maybe a chunk of crusty bread. If you like to use cheese, try a sprinkle of parmesan. There is nothing more warming on a cold winter’s eve than roasted garlic soup. I will probably pair this with traditional Hoppin’ John, Collard Greens and some cornbread for New Year’s Day.
To finish off this Garlic Fest, here is something I created while writing this post. That’s right! Many times when I cook I create blogs and when I blog, I create recipes. The final recipe is for salad dressing. I would use this on a green salad, on a warm wilted salad such as wilted spinach and mushrooms, or you can take leftover steamed or roasted veggies and dress them as a chilled salad.
ROASTED GARLIC DRESSING
- 3 or more cloves of roasted garlic
- oil of choice (I’m thinking avocado or extra-virgin olive oil)
- fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- a touch of apple cider vinegar to brighten things up
- salt and pepper to taste
- celery seeds (just a pinch)
To start, you want 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/lemon juice. Volume depends on how much you want to make and as you may know if you’ve read my recipes before, I don’t measure, I “eyeball” it. Thoroughly crush your roasted garlic into the mixture and add the seasonings. Whisk these together until they are emulsified*. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
This is a hearty enough dressing to use on a main course salad. If you’d like to make it the centerpiece of the meal, try the wilted spinach and mushrooms mixed with cooked shell pasta and either cooked tempeh, soy-based sausage or (if you eat meat) cooked Italian sausage. Top with toasted pine nuts.
* Emulsified: When two liquids that would normally separate (like oil and vinegar) are mixed together in such a way that they don’t separate. Some emulsions like this vinaigrette are temporary and some, like mayonnaise, are permanently mixed.
Here’s an additional blog post on garlic that I thought was excellent by fellow good blogger, Jovina.