Roasted Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
You may have seen pictures of those ultra stringy cheesy pull-apart loaves of bread on the internet before. Where hungry fingers are tugging at a big cube of dairy saturated bread that is being held captive to the loaf by luscious stretchy tentacles of the massive cheese octopus that lives within. You know the one? My sister (hand model here), whose diet is founded on cheese, made one of these loaves for dinner one night. And then another night. And then another. These things are addictive. The savory, cheese encrusted bread is more than satisfying and could make for a meal on its own.
Being me, I wanted to find a way to recreate this cheesy masterpiece in a more health conscious way that could allow one to enjoy it on a more regular basis within a healthful diet. Loads of cheese clearly tastes awesome, but isn’t the best way to achieve balanced nutrition. Flavor shouldn’t have to be sacrificed for health though, and there are lots of ways to add flavor through lower calorie foods and techniques.
So here, instead of relying on cheese for flavor, a roasted garlic butter of sorts infuses incredible, complex flavors into the bread. A whole 2 heads of garlic gets roasted until concentrated and paste-like, then blended with olive oil, rosemary, and fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Each exposed surface of bread innards gets slathered with this savory garlic butter. Then the loaf gets a dusting of Parmesan snow before heading into the oven to pull the garlic flavor into the bread and crisp the Parmesan crust on the outside.
While there is no cheese octopus in this loaf, there is no need for one. This version of cheesy pull-apart bread is lighter, but definitely not lacking in flavor. Bake up a loaf of this bread for an awesome carbohydrate at any meal, or it can be enjoyed like an appetizer at a party. It depends on hunger levels of course, but I would say that 1 loaf is probably good for about 4-6 people. Enjoy!
Roasted Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 loaf fresh whole grain bread
2 heads garlic
1 cup (40g) grated Parmesan
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
Slice off the top of each head of garlic just enough to expose most of the cloves. Place cut side up on aluminum foil and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Wrap foil firmly around garlic and place in the oven. Cook for about 1 hour, or until the cloves are soft and smooth when pierced with a knife. Open foil and let cool slightly.
Adjust oven to 350°F/175°C.
Remove garlic cloves from the head by squeezing or scraping out with a knife. In a food processor, combine the roasted garlic, ½ cup (20g) of the Parmesan, 3 tbs. olive oil, rosemary, a few grinds fresh black pepper, and a big pinch of salt. Blend until a smooth sort of butter forms.
Using a serrated knife, make about 4 cuts lengthwise through the top of the loaf. Then cut across the bread the other way to create ~ 1” (2.5 cm) squares. Make sure not to cut through the bottom of the bread, but just before. If you cut through the bottom, the bread will not hold its shape. Place bread on a foil lined baking sheet.
Use a butter knife to spread the roasted garlic butter inside of each cut. You want all areas of the inside of the bread to be lightly covered. Then sprinkle the remaining ½ cup (20g) grated Parmesan on top of the loaf. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. The loaf is done when golden and just a little crisp. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes. (You will be tempted by the seducing wafts of savory garlic and parmesan radiating from the bread to immediately dive in, but it is best to let it cool just a bit as to not burn off your finger prints or taste buds.)
Serve bread whole and let people tear squares from the bread as they like. Any leftover bread can be wrapped in foil, chilled, and reheated in the oven within a few days hypothetically, but I doubt that there will be any leftovers.
Notes: Sizes of loaves of bread obviously differ. Try to find an average fresh loaf of about 10” (25 cm) long and 18 oz (500g) in weight. While you can of course use pre-grated Parm, I highly suggest splurging on a real, whole chunk of the cheese for optimum flavor. I used a Microplane to grate the cheese into a fluffy snow. If you don’t have that, just use your finest grater.