Growing up in Bellevue, WA there was a chain restaurant called Cucina! Cucina! that we frequently made a trip to...not only as a child, but as a teenager and college student. Prices were reasonable, food was good and it was always easy to get a seat. While their food was your typical Italian fare, what resonated with me to this day is their garlic bread aka the Toscano on their menu. It is a loaf of warm bread served with butter and roasted elephant garlic (served in the bulbs) that you could easily spread onto each slice. Since we don't have a Cucina! Cucina! in Chicago, I've learned to re-create this favorite side dish and enjoy it like I used to in the restaurant.
Here's what you'll need:
- One large bulb of elephant garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 large loaf of bread (I like to use an Italian loaf or French bread - something that has a nice crunchy crust, but soft gooey inside)
- 2 tbsp butter
- Pre-heat your oven at 425 degrees
- While the oven is heating, cut the end of your garlic bulb enough so that the ends off of each bulb are exposed. Be sure to keep the thin layer of skin is still on the garlic.
- Coat the garlic bulb in olive oil and place in a piece of foil (large enough to wrap it all around)
- Sprinkle a small amount of salt over the exposed end of the garlic
- Fold foil until garlic is completely wrapped
- Place in over for 30 - 35 minutes (use a fork/knife to check if the garlic is done - it should be tender when you pierce it)
- While garlic is cooking, slice bread into thick slices
- When garlic is done scoop out each garlic bulb and place in a small bowl with the butter and a pinch of salt. Mash with a masher or fork until it turns into a paste.
- Place each bread slice onto a large baking pan and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Spread the garlic paste on each slice evenly.
- Place in oven for 5 minutes just enough to toast the exterior and serve.
- OPTIONAL: Before placing bread in oven, sprinkle each slice with grater parmesan, pecorino or romano cheese.
Elephant garlic is so mild compared to regular garlic and doesn't leave you with breath that would scare friends away. This bread is something I always make when Matt makes his family's spaghetti recipe and is truly the perfect side dish to compliment any Italian meal.