A simple way of taming garlic’s sometimes dominating flavor is to roast, poach, or toast it first. When you cut into raw garlic you break the cell walls and it immediately begins to oxidize. A product of that oxidation is the development of hot, often funky flavors that can overpower a dish. By applying heat, the enzymes that account for those flavors are neutralized, and the garlic will remain sweet and delicate. This is especially important for things like pesto which often is made in big batches and stored refrigerated or frozen for later use. You definitely don’t want the garlic to take over down the road. With all of these methods, garlic can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for at least a week.
To Roast Garlic: Slice off the top quarter or so of each garlic head to expose the cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Loosely but completely wrap each head in a piece of foil and roast in a preheated 400-degree oven or until garlic is very soft and lightly browned, about 45 minutes or so. To use simply squeeze the buttery soft garlic out of the head just like you’d do toothpaste.
To Poach garlic: Separate cloves but don’t peel. Place in a small saucepan and cover with at least ½ inch of cold water. Place on stove over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as water boils, drain and repeat process one more time. Rinse to cool off cloves and now easily remove husk.
To Toast garlic: Separate the cloves and place them unpeeled in a dry sauté pan over moderate heat. Shake and turn them occasionally until the cloves develop toasty brown spots on the skin. Remove, cool and the skin will easily slip off. The additional benefit of this method is that you’ve added a lovely toasty flavor to the garlic.