... including eating garlic on toast, if you're Desiree Nielsen.
1 May 2019 - 9:11 AM  UPDATED 1 May 2019 - 12:09 PM

The next time you have the oven on to roast something, throw a head or two of garlic in there too and set yourself up for weeks of deliciousness.

Roast garlic takes the pungency of garlic (which we love in everything from garlic naan to garlic and dill pickles) and turns it into a sweet-savoury, caramelised condiment that you can put in or on a thousand different dishes. Including toast, for real garlic lovers!

“I actually like to roast up a bunch of these at the same time and then pop them in the fridge because they’re so delicious in almost every recipe. Sometimes even just spread on toast,” says Desiree Nielsen, host of SBS Food’s The Urban Vegetarian. When we heard her say that while she was making her sweet potato noodles with cheesy cashew-basil sauce in episode 3 of the show (catch it Monday, May 6 on SBS Food, then on SBS On Demand), we thought we’d best find out more. Does she really eat it on toast?  

Apparently, she does. And when we had a chat with the plant-loving dietician and cookbook author about why she wants to help all of us put more plants on our plates, we gathered a few more tips on why roasting some garlic can help you add depths of flavour to all sorts of dishes.

“Roasted garlic has such a rich, sweet flavour that it makes almost any recipe better,” Nielsen tells us.

“When you roast, don’t be shy with the salt and pepper as it will really help bring out the flavours - and be patient! It always takes longer than you think it will let that garlic get good and golden before you remove it from the oven. 

“You can keep it for three to four days in the fridge on its own but if you want to store it for longer, you can peel all of the cloves, pop them into a clean jar and pour enough olive oil to cover completely and then refrigerate for up to one to two weeks. You can even freeze the cloves too.”

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The basic method is super simple: peel the outer papery skins off the head of garlic and cut a thin slice of the top (you want to take off just enough to expose the top of each individual clove), season (a drizzle of olive oil also helps create truly melting-soft garlic, and adds to the flavour) and then pop into the oven (the temperature doesn’t have to be precise, anything from 160-220ºC will work, it will just take longer at lower temperatures) until golden and caramelised. (No oven? Don’t give up on roasted garlic! We are impressed at the dedication to garlic roasting shown by food blogger and writer Tori Avey who has variations in the oven or on the stovetop; using a baking tray, two muffin trays or a ceramic or cast iron garlic roasting dish; and whole or in cloves!)

So, what can you do with your roasted garlic?

Use it instead of raw garlic

Roasted garlic is a gentler, sweeter version, but still offers plenty of flavours, so you can use it in things such as dip and pesto, or in your favourite garlic bread recipe. Try it in this roasted garlic ricotta spread, or stir it into mashed potato. 

Up your aioli game

If you roast up a head of garlic and only need a few for a recipe, this recipe for roast beetroot bruschetta with roast garlic aioli will show you how to easily turn the extras into a delicious dollop.  

Roast beetroot bruschetta with roast garlic aioli

In garlic soup

Garlic soup is a European classic, and its humble origins mean it is one you can whip up with minimal fuss.

Try it in a Spanish sopa de ajo, which brings together eggs, roasted garlic, toasted sourdough, paprika and thyme to deliver bowls rich in flavour; a roast garlic and onion soup where charring the garlic and onions gives them a toasty flavour; this roast garlic stracciatella (definitely one for garlic lovers – it uses four heads of garlic!); or change things up with a comforting celeriac, potato and roast garlic soup.

Spread the love

Roasted garlic is soft and buttery – so you can mash the cloves and spread it on bread, toast or crackers, just as is or seasoned with salt and pepper. Or serve it up in this recipe for mozzarella with roasted garlic and black olives, which is possibly THE ultimate combination of cheesy, oily, salty flavours, all served with lots of crusty bread for maximum dipping and ripping pleasure.

Just eat it... 

For garlic lovers, roast garlic is like another veg - just serve it up alongside whatever main you've made. Mashed or purred roast garlic, with or without seasoning, also makes a great addition to an antipasto platter. 

Garlic and kale are a match made in heaven

So says Nielsen in The Urban Vegetarian, when she’s cooking up her spaghetti squash with kale ragout. The roasted garlic – “so, so delicious” Nielsen says – adds a touch of sweetness to a dish that’s packed with veg.

Spaghetti squash with kale ragout

Join Desiree Nielsen in The Urban Vegetarian, with double episodes airing Mondays at 7.30pm from 29 April on SBS Food (Channel 33), and streaming on SBS On Demand.

Roast garlic in foil image by Christine Leiser via Flickr

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