Roasting garlic tames its characteristic bite, giving it an aromatic, mild flavor with a creamy, sweet finish. Combined with soft goat cheese and fresh thyme, it makes a light, flavorful spread that's great on crackers or crusty whole-grain toast or with vegetable sticks. It's even better if made a day ahead. Hardy thyme usually overwinters outside, but in my herb bed the weeds overtake it, so I start with a new plant each year. Use French thyme for this. Fragrant lemon thyme is great for chicken or lamb, but its assertiveness isn't right here.
Makes 2 to 4 servings
- 1 firm head of garlic, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for finishing
- One 4-to-6-ounce log of fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus thyme sprig for garnish, if desired
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut a thin slice off the top of the garlic head (not the root end).
3. Pull off the papery outer skin.
4. Place on a sheet of foil in a small baking dish; drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil.
5. Enclose in foil. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until very soft. Unwrap the garlic and let stand until easily handled.
6. Squeeze the pulp out of each clove into a medium bowl.
7. Add 1 tablespoon water and mash with a whisk until smooth.
8. Stir in the cheese, thyme, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and a little pepper.
9. Serve in a small dish, drizzled with a little oil and garnished with a thyme sprig.
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine, February/March 2014.