I love garlic, I adore garlic, I cook with absolutely loads of garlic like today’s recipe for Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic. I could actually employ a full-time garlic peeler, knee deep in discarded garlic husks. A manager I worked with regularly joked I could not cook a dish without garlic, cream, and alcohol, including the desserts.*
But here is a but – I LOATH BURNT GARLIC. I jump up, gesticulate, shout and scream at the number of cookery programs where poor, innocent, sweet, comely garlic is tossed into woks and pans of smoking hot oil.** I am pretty certain every single person who utters the frankly unbelievable phrase ‘ it doesn’t have garlic in it does it, I really don’t like garlic ‘ is the result of a traumatic exposure to such cooking travesties. Burnt garlic is a cheek sucking, eye-watering experience, an awful culinary disgrace.
Hence a recipe for roasted garlic, I swear all the disbelievers could be converted with this delicious way of cooking garlic. The slow roasting with just a little oil highlights the natural sweetness and tempers any harsh raw flavours. I first encountered roasted garlic when I worked as a manager at the Bel and the Dragon, Cookham served with rustic, crusty bread and olives and olive oil, the garlic squeezed out and spread on the bread as a kind of pungent pate. Wow!
I keep some roasted garlic cloves covered in oil in the refrigerator now handy for lots of cooking especially this simple full flavoured lunch or supper dish recipe Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic. Post the Christmas and Boxing Day excesses I think it is nice to have something really tasty and easy to cook. The Parma ham and roasted garlic can be cooked in the last few minutes of your pasta cooking. The chilli provides a little bite but is not there to overpower this wonderful dish, however, if you want to add a little extra go for it, one of the joys of cooking is experimenting. Enjoy.
*The garlic cream rum babas were perhaps a little ahead of their time.
** Just add the garlic later during the cooking process when the heat is lowered or with more ingredients that dissipate the heat.
Spaghetti with Parma Ham and Roasted Garlic serves 4
50 to 65 gr Spaghetti per person ( I grab a generous handful but I’m greedy )
2 large heads of roasted garlic ( see below )
16 slices Parma Ham
1 small to medium Chilli, de-seeded and very thinly sliced
6 to 8 tablespoons quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A small handful of curly Parsley, thoroughly washed, dried and chopped
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
½ a Lemon
for the roasted garlic
Sea Salt and roughly ground Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C/ Gas mark 6. Remove the tops of the garlic bulbs, place on to a baking tray. Sprinkle liberally with olive oil, the herbs and plenty of salt and pepper. Roast for twenty-five to thirty minutes until the bulbs are soft. Cool and squeeze out as required.
For the Spagehetti
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for eight to ten minutes until ‘ al dente ‘ or with just a little bite left in the pasta. The old student technique of seeing if sticks to the wall is not necessary, just remove a little of the spaghetti and bite between your front teeth. While the pasta is cooking gently heat the olive oil in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the chilli and garlic, sauté for two minutes. Add the ham and season, cook for a minute. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and stir in the parsley. Drain the spaghetti and stir thoroughly into the frying pan, ensuring all the spaghetti is coated with the oil, chilli and parsley mix. Plate and serve with a little extra chopped parsley.
Allergens in this recipe are;