Update! Smoked Garlic!

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If you’ve been following along with my blog posts (which I hope you have), you may remember that this past Monday I wrote about the revitalized Union Market in North East DC.  Amongst the many food treasures I picked up there, one of the most interesting items was two heads of roasted AND smoked garlic (see above picture).  I promised you that I would look into and “research” how best to use and cook with this unique and smokey spice.

So…to begin my “research”, I simply popped a clove out of its skin and ate it!  Yup, just like that.  I figured roasted garlic is one of my top fav flavors in the world and I eat that plain too – this couldn’t be much different.  And to some degree I was right – not sharp, or spicy like that of raw garlic.  But instead this garlic had a deep, woody, umami flavor imparted from the smoking process.  That mixed with a slight sweet and nutty flavor from roasting was like a match made in heaven.  I absolutely loved the flavor!  It was so unique and so pleasant to the palate that I knew I had to make a dish that would let this smokey and roasted garlic shine bright.

Anytime I want something to stand out, a great beginning ingredient is pasta.  By itself there isn’t much going on.  But, once cooked and tossed with any type of sauce, pasta sops up a lot of flavor.  Thus, it was my choice “back ground ingredient” for my smoked roasted garlic.  (Plus garlic and pasta???  Can’t go wrong there!).  My next thought was a complementary flavor to the garlic.  Although already slightly sweet from being roasted, I wanted a brighter more intense “sweet” for my pasta.  Tomatoes – and to stick with the theme, I roasted them!  Sweet, slightly acidic – a great addition.  Plus the acidic quality would help brighten up the whole dish.  Lastly, I decided to throw in some soy Italian sausage (of course you could use regular) for some added protein.  Now, if you were going to make this at home, you probably don’t have smoked and roasted garlic.  And that’s OK.  I think this dish would be just as awesome with plain old roasted garlic.  Click here for my roasted garlic recipe.

Overall, I ended up with a delicious pasta dish that is definitely going to become “part of the rotation” as my husband likes to say.  I hope you try it – I think it might be a regular in your house too.  Here’s the recipe:  Smoked Garlic and Tomato Pasta:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound short-cut pasta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves roasted garlic depending on your preference
  • 6 oz spicy Italian sausage (soy or regular)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Bring large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  • On a sheet pan covered with foil, toss grape tomatoes with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive, salt and pepper.  Roll tomatoes around until they are well coated.
  • Roast tomatoes in oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until skins are broken and start to get slightly browned.
  • In a large saute pan over medium, cook sausage until just about done.  Reduce heat to medium and add roasted garlic and remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Saute garlic and sausage together for about 1-2 minutes – this will help infuse the oil (which is the sauce for this dish) with the flavors of the sausage and garlic.
  • Once the tomatoes have finished roasting, toss them into the pan with the sausage and garlic.
  • Add in the pasta (once cooked), parsley and parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.

Enjoy warm with some extra parmesan cheese!

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