Monday, June 23, 2008

Roasted garlic puree

One slightly frustrating feature of food shopping in Spain is the way many products are treated as commodities. While a British supermarket allows you to choose coffee on the basis of country of origin, strength of roast, fineness of grounds and quality, the Spanish equivalent gives you a choice of three or four almost identical brands, and the only other choice is decaff or normal.

This is true even of garlic. In Edinburgh, I can choose between ‘normal’ garlic, smoked garlic, top grade Highland garlic (or its Patagonian replacement during the winter), jars of crushed and chopped garlic and tubes of garlic puree. In Cadiz there is just garlic, and the occasional appearance of fresh garlic in the spring.

I don’t always feel like peeling and chopping garlic, particularly if I’m making something quick, and that's where ready-crushed garlic comes in handy. The method below is a great way of producing homemade garlic puree. It also has the advantage of being much milder than the raw version, so I prefer to use it in dips and other dishes where the garlic isn’t going to be cooked any further. Once you've cooked the garlic, it will keep for a few days in the fridge, and you can just squeeze it straight into your cooking.

Ingredients4 heads of garlic
4 bay leaves
olive oil


  1. Drizzle the heads of garlic olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap in tinfoil with the bay leaves, and roast in a hot oven for 45 minutes or so.
  2. Remove the tinfoil parcel from the oven, allow to cool, cut each head of garlic in half, and squeeze out the roast garlic into a small bowl.
  3. Mix with a little salt and some more olive oil, and store in a jar in the fridge.

You obviously don’t want to turn the oven on just for this, so the best thing to do is bung some garlic in the oven when you are already baking something else.

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