I have tasted various versions of this dish in California and I am fairly sure that Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, is the originator.
Peel off any loose skin, but leave the garlic bulb whole. With a sharp knife, slice off a shallow cap from the top of the bulb. Put the garlic in a baking tin and sprinkle the cut surface with the olive oil, letting the rest dribble into the tin. Replace the cap, and bake in the centre of a preheated oven at 190 °C / 375 °F / Mark 5 for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 150°C / 300°F / Mark 2, and continue cooking until the garlic is creamy and tender, which may take 1 hour altogether. Meanwhile, put the cheese on a heatproof plate and toast the pinenuts in a dry frying pan.
Just before you are ready to serve the garlic, melt the cheese in the oven or under the grill. Put the garlic on the plate, cap removed, and scatter the pinenuts on the cheese. Garnish the plate with greenery.
Given the length of time taken to cook the garlic in the oven, this is a good dish to serve as a starter, if you’re also cooking a casserole in the oven.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.