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1. Set the oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Trim any long stems from the garlic, then put the bulbs, whole and unpeeled, in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with some of the thyme. Roast until the cloves are soft, sweet and virtually caramelised. They should be tender enough to squash between your fingers. This will take 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the age of your garlic. 2. When the garlic is ready, tear the heads apart and squeeze the golden cloves from their papery skins, then mash them to a pulp. They should be as soft as butter.
3. Put a large deep pan of water on to boil and cook the pasta till it is as you like it. I suggest about 9 minutes. Warm the creamed garlic in a pan over a moderate heat, then pour in the cream and let it bubble briefly before crumbling in a little salt, some ground black pepper and the rest of the thyme leaves stripped from their branches.
4. Drain the pasta, but no so thoroughly that it becomes completely dry. Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss gently until all is warm, bubbling and sweetly fragrant.
And more1. Pasta with roast garlic, cream and pancetta. Add crispness to the overall softness by cooking thin slices of pancetta or streaky bacon under the grill, then crumbling them over the pasta as you serve. I reckon on two rashers per person.2. Pasta with sausage and thyme. Skin a butcher’s sausage, crumble the meat into a frying pan with a slick of oil and fry till golden. Toss with the cream and pasta. A fat, herby sausage for each person.3. And with mustard and Parmesan. Stir a spoonful or two of grain mustard with the garlic, tasting as you go, then shake over some grated Parmesan.4. Pasta with cream and mushrooms. Wacky fungi, now available from most supermarkets and the more adventurous greengrocers, will add a warm, woodsy flavour. Toss a handful of mushrooms, cut up if larger than a mouthful, in some sizzling butter, then add the roasted garlic and cream as above.5. With ricotta and herbs. You’ll need a small handful of ricotta and a good, big handful of soft and fleshy herbs, such as basil, parsley, basil or tarragon, per person, folded into the drained pasta and cream.6. Or how about a few chopped anchovies, some shredded sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped steamed spinach, or maybe some broad beans briefly boiled and popped from their skins?
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