> Use only firm, smooth garlic. Avoid soft, shriveled bulbs or bulbs with sprouts.
> An average size garlic bulb yields roughly 2 to 3 tablespoons roasted garlic.
> To store, wrap the roasted cloves tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
The longer that garlic roasts, the mellower — and sweeter, even slightly nuttier — it becomes.
Garlic, like leeks and onions, is a member of the allium (lily) family. Its pungent scent originates in alliinase, an enzyme that “asserts itself when cell walls inside the garlic cloves are cut or crushed,” writes Leanne Kitchen in The Produce Bible.
“The more finely the garlic is cut, the more of this sulfurous compound gets released, which has distinct consequences for cooking with garlic. Heat destroys alliinase so the longer you cook garlic, and the higher the heat it is cooked at, the milder the resulting flavour.” – Star Tribune (Minneapolis)/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
1 whole head garlic
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
450g French lentils (see Note below), rinsed and picked over to remove debris
8 cups vegetable stock
1 (800g) can whole tomatoes, drained and diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Rub off most but not all of garlic’s outer papery skins. Using a serrated knife, cut off the top 1/2 inch (1.2cm) from the bulb. Place garlic in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons water to bottom of pan, cover with aluminium foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove aluminium foil and roast for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until cloves are pliable and slightly browned. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, remove cloves from skin and purée in a food processor or blender; reserve until ready to use.
Meanwhile, in a large stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrots and sweat until tender, about 4 minutes.
Add rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper and stir to coat vegetables.
Add lentils, vegetable stock, tomatoes and tomato paste. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour, until lentils are tender.
Stir in puréed roasted garlic, vinegar and fresh garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes to heat through.
To serve, remove bay leaves, ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped parsley.
Note: French lentils are the small green variety. Any could be used in this soup.