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One of Larry’s favorite things to grow is garlic. Once you get the basics down, garlic is quite easy to grow. And you plant it in October for harvesting in July of the following year, so it’s out of the way as a chore when there is so much else that needs doing in the springtime.
Consequently, we usually end up with something like 125 gigantic heads of of garlic every year. We grow more than that, but you have to save your seed garlic heads for the next year, and we give away or sell some of it. It is just now beginning to deteriorate, so I’m using even more than usual to make sure none of it is wasted.
If you do the math, we usually have about 32 weeks when we are eating garlic we grew, and that comes out to about 4 heads of garlic a week. That is four gigantic heads of garlic, because we are now to the point where we produce our own strain that is very well suited to growing here, so it does really well.
Some households might find using that much garlic to be a challenge, but where most everything is made from scratch, it’s not a problem – and trust me, no vampires are ever tempted to pay us a call.
One particularly fine way to use garlic is to roast it. It’s true when the garlic is young, because it mellows the flavor, and it’s true as well, once garlic begins to get a little on the aged side, because it wakes up the flavor a bit at that point.
Roasting garlic is very easy. I usually do it when I already have the oven on for something else anyway. Choose heads that are on the large side, and in good shape, with firm cloves. Don’t peel it – just cut the top, pointed part off, so that the tops of all the cloves are exposed. Put the heads in a baking dish small enough to hold them upright, or crumple aluminum foil around them to hold them up. Drizzle with a teaspoon or so per head of olive oil, and sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Since I am usually using the oven for something else at the same time, the heat can vary, but 350º to 400º is a good range. Roast until the cloves are completely soft. At 400º this takes about 20 minutes, longer at a lower temperature. The cloves will shrink inside the papery peels, turn a little darker and when poked with a toothpick, they should offer no resistance. Let them cool, and peel away the skins, or gently squeeze out the cloves.
Roasted Garlic Hummus
- heads of garlic
- olive oil
- kosher salt fresh ground black pepper
- 1 15 ounce can of chick peas
- 3 large roasted garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- 3 tablespoon tahini paste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
Baked Pita Chips
- 1 package pita bread - 4 or 5 breads
- olive oil
- kosher salt
Roast the garlic
- heat the oven to 400º
- Cut the pointed end of the heads of garlic until the tops of all the cloves are exposed.
- Place the heads in a baking dish small enough to hold them upright, or crumple aluminum foil around them to hold them up.
- Drizzle each head with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with a good sized pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Bake until the cloves are very soft - about 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool, and remove the skin, or squeeze out the cloves.
- You can put the cloves in a small dish and cover with olive oil - it will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.
Make the hummus
- Drain the chick peas, reserving the liquid.
- In the bowl of a food processor, place the chick peas, roasted garlic cloves, salt, pepper, tahini paste, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Process for a minute or so, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- If the mixture is too thick, add the reserved liquid from the chick peas, a few tablespoons at a time.
- Continue to process the mixture until it is very smooth - adding more of the chick pea liquid if needed. It is going to thicken up a bit as it chills, but not a lot, so you want it to be a nice, scoop-able texture.
- Scrape the hummus into a bowl, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.
- Serve with chips, or fresh veggies.
Baked Pita Chips
- Preheat the oven to 400º
- Cut each pita bread into eight wedges.
- Put all of the wedges into a gallon ziplock bag or largish bowl. [the bag is easier]
- Drizzle 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the wedges, seal up the bag and shakes around until the wedges are evenly coated with oil.
- Spread the pita wedges on a large baking sheet, in a single layer.
- Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt - I use a finer grain for this, but any kind will do.
- Bake until browned and very crispy - about 10 minutes, turning each wedge over after 5 minutes.
- Cool before serving.
The homemade chips are very easy – directions are in the recipe. So much better than the ones you can buy!Hummus is a great snack or appetizer – and really good out on the front porch for cocktail hour. You can trust me on that one.