The gumption of the first person who warily bit into a clove from a roasted head of garlic ranks almost up there with the nerve it took for the first person to taste a raw oyster. In recent years, a legion of fearless folks have tried it; they like the vegetable's subtle (yes, garlic can be subtle!), buttery mellowness, and have turned it into a trendy item. So how do you roast garlic, and, more importantly, what do you do with it once you've roasted it?
1. Peel away the dry outer leaves of skin from the head of the garlic. Leave skins of cloves intact. Cut off the pointed top portion (about 1/4 inch) with a knife, leaving the bulb intact but exposing the individual cloves.
2. Place garlic head, cut side up, in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake, covered, in a 400 degree F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until cloves feel soft when pressed.
3. Use the soft garlic paste warm or cooled. If serving warm, such as for a bread spread, use the tip of a knife to remove the paste from each clove. If using the paste as a seasoning, remove the cooled garlic paste from the head by cutting off its stem end. Use your fingers to squeeze the paste from each clove into a small bowl; discard the skins. Mash the garlic paste with a fork until smooth.
4. Roast several bulbs at a time to have on hand for seasoning. Freeze the paste in ice cube trays or wrap small portions in heavy plastic wrap; put into freezer bags and freeze. Thaw to use. Or, refrigerate the paste in an airtight container or wrapped in heavy plastic for up to one week.