Black Garlic Bread With Pumpkin: Perfect for the Holidays!

Last week, one of the chefs at work gave me a mysterious packet. It contained two, grayish brown garlic bulbs that looked like they'd been sitting in the sun for the last year, as though someone had just left them there to dry and shrivel up. I asked him why the garlic looked like that, and he told me it was Black Garlic and that it had been fermented.

Garlic cloves contain sugar and amino acids, and the fermentation process causes them to produce a dark-colored substance called melanoidin. The melanoidin transforms your everyday garlic clove from its usual, yellowish color into a tar-like black hue. The texture becomes slightly mushy, as well, and most certainly NOT suitable for a garlic press. (I found that out the hard way.)

The restaurant had ordered black garlic to add flavor to a compound butter sauce they were using that week in the Queensview Steakhouse. They ended up with one packet left over, and lo and behold, they gave it to me!

After combing through multiple websites, experimenting in the kitchen, and reading every black garlic recipe I could get my hands on, I came up with my own winning concoction: Black Garlic Bread . . . With Pumpkin!

I know it may sound a little odd, but the sweet, molasses flavor of the garlic adds a perfect complement to the pumpkin. I also threw in some extra virgin olive oil and ricotta cheese to give it a smooth, creamy texture. With a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to boot, you've got yourself a uniquely festive appetizer to bring to all those holiday parties. It's sweet, it's savory, and it's relatively easy to make. Just spread a thin layer on top of some rustic french bread, top it with Parmesan cheese, and throw it in the oven -- same as you would for regular garlic bread. Only, this garlic bread doesn't have any butter, so it's a tad bit healthier.

The only catch is that black garlic has to be ordered online. It costs $3.99 for a pack of two bulbs, but the flavor is so potent, you'll find a little goes a long way.

Ready for the full recipe? Here it is:

Black Garlic Bread With a Pumpkiny Twist

1/2 loaf Pain Rustique from Trader Joe's (or any other rustic french bread)
4 cloves black garlic, sliced into slivers and mashed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Sea Salt, to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the loaf of Pain Rustique in half long ways.

Then slice in half again, as though you were using the bread to make a sandwich. Open it up and place it on a baking sheet.

Get out a mixing bowl and fill it with the pumpkin, black garlic, olive oil, ricotta, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Mix everything together until thoroughly combined, and then spread it evenly over the Pain Rustique.

Put it in the oven for 10 minutes, then take it out and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Next, turn the oven to the broiler setting and put the bread back in for 3 minutes. When the edges look nice and crispy, you can take it out, cut it into little slices, and arrange on a platter to take to that next holiday party.

Happy baking, and if you try the recipe, please leave your feedback in the comment section below :)