Roasted gently in the oven, garlic caramelizes, developing a rich, sweet flavor a world apart from its more familiar, pungent personality. This paste, which flavors several of our most popular pasta dishes, is easy to make. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, stored in an airtight container with its surface smoothed flat and completely covered with a film of olive oil.
2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the garlic pieces with the olive oil to coat evenly. Spread the garlic pieces evenly on the bottom of a small baking pan and roast until their edges begin to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan, and with a spoon or spatula, scrape up and turn the garlic; then return the pan to the oven and roast until the garlic is uniformly golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Put the roasted garlic pieces and 2 tablespoons of the water in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process, scraping the bowl down occasionally, until the garlic is pureed to a paste with the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If necessary, add the remaining water. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.