The basic formula lends itself to improvisation: you can replace the mesclun with other greens and dressings—dandelion with anchovy or bacon dressing, frisée with walnut oil for example—or throw in walnuts, cooked new potatoes, or roasted peppers. A variety of aged goat cheeses will work well. Pyramids, cones or three-sided logs especially lend themselves to appealingly shaped portions.
2. Place the goat cheese in a small cast-iron skillet or a heavy baking pan and sprinkle the thyme and pepper to taste over each slice. Bake until the cheese is warmed through and soft but not collapsing, about 3 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, place one slice of cheese directly on each portion of the greens along with one or two heads of Roasted Garlic. Pass the bread on the side.
You can roast as many heads of garlic at once as you wish. Simply double or triple the recipe, wrapping no more than 4 large or 8 small heads in each package.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Gently peel off the papery white skin from each head of garlic to reveal the cloves, without separating them. Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil. Using a slightly dampened brush, brush with the olive oil, and nestle the thyme springs among them.
3. Dribble the water onto the foil. Pull the edges of the foil up and crimp tightly together to form a package. Place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake the garlic until the flesh is soft, about 34 to 45 minutes. To eat the garlic, pull off 1 clove at a time and squeeze the soft flesh out of the skin.
5. Roasted Garlic is best eaten or used when still warm.
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A former chef, Sally Schneider has won numerous awards—including four James Beard awards—for her books and magazine writing. She is creator of the lifestyle blog Improvised Life, a featured blogger on The Atlantic Monthly's Food Blog, and author of The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook. She has served as a contributing editor to both Saveur and Food & Wine, and her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, SELF and Connoisseur.