Roasting (or baking) garlic mellows its sharpness and "melts" the flesh to a buttery texture, and it could hardly be easier to do. The mashed cloves can be stirred into soups or salad dressings, tossed with pasta or rice, and spread on spread on crackers or crostini. A little goes a long way, but make extra because you'll find endless uses for this flavor workhorse of the kitchen.
To roast: Heat oven to 350 degrees. If you're using whole garlic heads, remove as much of the outer, papery skin as you can without breaking up the head into individual cloves. Do not peel the inner skin off the cloves. If you like, you may slice off the top quarter of the head (that will make it easier to "pop" the tender flesh out of the cloves after they are roasted).
Place heads (or whole, unpeeled cloves, if you prefer) in a small baking dish or ceramic "garlic roaster." Drizzle with a small bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a splash of water or white wine and cover tightly with aluminum foil or fitted roaster cover. Bake until garlic is very soft, 30-45 minutes for individual cloves and up to one hour for whole heads. Let the garlic cool until it can be handled. The soft flesh will squeeze easily out of the cloves and can be pureed or mashed with a fork or the flat of a knife.
Copyright by Terese Allen