Waiter, There’s Some Mashed Potato in my Roasted Garlic

Over the course of the past several years, chefs and serious home-cooks everywhere have discovered the joys of roasted garlic. It should be no surprise, then, that it’s turning up at your friendly local mega-store in jarred tomato sauces and in bottled salad dressings too.

Roasted garlic is one of those ‘little detail’ kinds of recipes that make you a legend in the kitchen. Trendy restaurants everywhere serve some form of Roasted-Garlic Mashed Potatoes these days, but it makes a terrific condiment in its own right.

When you cook garlic by any method, it loses its pungency without sacrificing its flavor. Roasting, though, beyond offering that benefit, also softens the garlic to the extent that when it’s cooked, it extrudes from its skin as a puree.

Spread a tablespoonful on bruschetta and you’ll wonder how you managed without it. Roast a bunch of mixed root vegetables, then toss them with a couple of tablespoonfuls and you’ll get raves at the dinner table. And by all means add a ton of roasted garlic to mashed potatoes. Just because tony restaurants are doing it doesn’t make it a bad thing. When locally grown fresh basil comes back to market in the spring, substitute roasted garlic for raw, to make a batch of truly remarkable Pesto.

Finally, for an upscale version of La Cucina dei Poveri `the cooking of the poor’, toss a couple of tablespoonfuls of roasted garlic with some pasta for a particularly refined pasta, aglio, olio, e pepperoncino `pasta with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes’.

You will be asking yourself the question posed by that great American philosopher, Albert J. ‘Fats’ Waller, who asked, ‘I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight?’

Garlic Puree

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  • 6 or 8 whole heads garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Sprigs rosemary fresh, optional
  • Kosher salt


  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
  • First, buy garlic that you can be proud of. That is, select heads with large cloves of garlic, thick skin, and no green roots beginning to form at their tips.
  • Rub the heads of garlic with olive oil so that they are well and evenly coated. Place the heads in a shallow ovenproof container like a gratin dish, add the rosemary if you're using it, then cover tightly-aluminum foil will be fine-and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, uncover and when the garlic is cool enough to handle, cut the tops of the heads and squeeze the roasted garlic out into a glass container. I use French jelly jars. Stir in two or three teaspoons of Extra-Virgin olive oil, and season with a little salt.

As always, I wish you buon appetito!

About the Author:

Skip Lombardi is the author of two cookbooks: ‘La Cucina dei Poveri: Recipes from my Sicilian Grandparents,’ and ‘Almost Italian: Recipes from America’s Little Italys.’ He has been a Broadway musician, high-school math teacher, and software engineer, but has never let any of those pursuits get in the way of his passion for cooking and eating.
Visit his site to learn more about his cookbooks. http://www.skiplombardi.com

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