Garlic. So, you chose probably my most commonly used ingredient. My mom can certainly attest to that, as whenever we cook together she wakes up the next morning talking about how she padded back and forth from the sink all night repeatedly brushing her teeth--in an effort to get the garlic out of her mouth. I adore garlic: raw, toasted, stewed, sauteed, barbecued, roasted, baked--so when you chose this ingredient I mulled the possibilities over in my head for a week. I made all sorts of recipes with garlic as the highlight, but I wanted it to be the main event for my KC recipe. Meanwhile, all week C reminisced about the roasted garlic mashed potatoes I made years ago for an anniversary dinner. When you are still hearing about a recipe four years later, you should probably buck up and listen.
Another omen pushing me in this direction was the pile of fingerling, red, and gorgeous Yukon gold potatoes overflowing out of my cupboard. You can see where this is going. You might think mashed potatoes are boring (or a cop-out, like making guacamole with the avocados a few weeks ago), but I encourage you to give this recipe a shot. However, in case you are so bored by the mashed potato idea, I am going to explain how to roast a head of garlic--so that you can use that in any recipe you like. On the night I made these potatoes, I roasted two whole heads of garlic. I used one head for the potatoes, and part of the other head for the golden Brussels sprouts and toasted walnut dish I cooked up. You can also smear the garlic on toast (my favorite thing ever), or add it to a big pot of roasted squash soup (I am now officially starving and hardly able to sit at my computer to finish typing this).
Before I move on to sharing the recipe(s), here is your mission for next week: winter squash. I'm not going to choose a specific squash because there are so many delicious ones, you can use many of them interchangeably in recipes, and when I am at the farmers' market admiring a barrel full of them, one particular kind usually calls out to me.
So, pick your poison--and fill me in next week.
Roasted Head of Garlic
Preheat oven to 450. Cut off the top 1/2 inch of a head of garlic (the pointy side). Rub olive oil and (kosher or sea) salt all over the outside of the head. If you're wondering if you should peel the garlic head, don't. Leave the papery outer coating intact. Now, take a small sheet of foil, place the oily, salty garlic head in the center, and wrap it up. Place package in oven. Revel in the smell of roasting garlic for 40-45 minutes, and then remove package from oven and unwrap carefully.
When the head has cooled enough to touch it, squeeze each clove and watch as delectable roasted garlic paste oozes out. Add this to any recipe you'd like--I've listed a few ideas above. In my book, roasted garlic is sort of like gold, jam, or LEGOs: you really can't go wrong with something this perfect.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 head roasted garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lb potatoes (a mix of any type)
2 tbs milk*
1 tbs unsalted butter*
Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Peel the potatoes first if you like, but I prefer my mashed potatoes with skins on. Cover the potato chunks with water in a saucepan, bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes cubes are tender (~8 minutes). Pour water from saucepan, add milk, butter, and as many of the roasted garlic cloves as you'd like. Mash mixture into desired consistency and season with salt and pepper before serving.
*I made a vegan version of the potatoes this time around. All that involves is replacing the butter and milk with Earth Balance and soy milk, respectively. There is no taste difference, the end result will be fabulous either way.