I’m very fond of roasted vegetables, and now that cooler weather is drifting into the kitchen from outdoors, I am happy to fire up the oven and enjoy them again. Harvest time provides an abundance of fruits and vegetables ripe and perfect for roasting – they’re heaped in baskets at markets and supermarkets everywhere.
Roasting is an oven technique that requires a higher heat than baking. It’s a fast-cooking method that draws out and caramelizes the natural sugars on the outside while concentrating and deepening the flavours on the inside. Thick, firm, and juicy-fleshed fruits such as plums, apricots, and cherries, and all kinds of vegetables such as beets, onions, squash, turnip, carrots, parsnips, eggplant, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, and asparagus, benefit from roasting. What follows is my basic recipe for roasting fruits or vegetables.
Fresh Ontario garlic is available now from any of the farmers who visit the city every week, and my advice is to buy it in bulk and use it all winter in robust dishes. One of my favourite ways to use garlic in cooking is to roast the whole head. Whole roasted garlic bulbs morph into a sweet and meltingly tender pulp with a deceptively mellow and nutty flavour that is versatile and delicious in fall dishes. Roasting garlic is easy. I like to roast two or three heads at a time because generally I substitute one whole head in place of one or two bulbs in a recipe. I use roasted garlic in spreads and dips and as a flavouring for sauce, soup, and stew.
For roasting garlic, I prefer to use a small heatproof baking dish with a lid instead of aluminum foil, and there are electric and terra cotta garlic roasting pots widely available online and in kitchen supply stores. The method is easy and my recipe follows: (Makes 1 head)
1 whole head garlic
1 tsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
- Remove the loose, papery skin from the garlic head and slice and discard 1/4 inch off the tips of the cloves across the top of the head. Place the garlic head, cut side up in a small heatproof baking dish* and drizzle with oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until garlic is quite soft. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from their skins. It is now ready to use in any recipe that calls for roasted garlic.
* Note: If using a clay garlic roaster with a lid, roast at 375° F (190° C) for 35 to 40 minutes.