Garlic and shallots are the backbone of a good sauce, soup, casserole and stew, adding substantial flavors that permeate the entire dish. And, given a chance, these ancient vegetables shine on their own when roasted with a little oil and a lot of herbs. That snappy flavor of fresh bulbs, whose bite is essential to salads and vinaigrettes, mellows and sweetens with low, slow heat as the garlic and shallots turn golden and silky.
When roasting them, it’s best to use the freshest bulb. Both the hard neck garlic (large, spicy cloves) and the soft neck (smaller, milder cloves) grow well in our region. Our local shallots are fat, juicy and mild, easy to handle and they make a fine match. When snugged together in the roasting pan, the more assertive garlic and sweet, mild shallot strike a nice balance. But you can choose to roast just one or the other.
This dish is terrific served as a side to roast beef, grilled pork chops or roast chicken. Or, purée the cloves and serve atop pizza or polenta; toss it with pasta, or stir it into rice.
The purée is also delicious whisked into cream cheese or chèvre to spread on bruschetta or sandwiches. Swirl it into sour cream, Greek yogurt, or hummus for a dip. Add a spoonful or two to boost soups, stews and sauces.
This recipe is easily doubled, keeps for a week and freezes beautifully. The roasty scents of these humble bulbs stir late fall hunger and promise good things soon to come.
Beth Dooley is a Minneapolis author and cooking instructor. Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.