A big plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce just doesn’t seem complete without a piece or two (or more!) of garlic bread on the side. Although it is convenient to pick up some garlic bread from the frozen section and pop it into the oven, the frozen brands don’t have the same rich flavor that you get from real butter and freshly chopped garlic. And really, why buy one of the grocery store varieties when garlic bread is easy to make using ingredients that many of us already have at home, and tastes so much better than anything from the grocery store?
Garlic bread is very easy to bake in the oven, and the recipe and technique are easy enough that anyone can personalize the recipe to their own taste. Below is a basic recipe adapted from the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Joy of Cooking and step-by-step guide for making garlic bread in the oven along with a few ideas for variations.

Ingredients

1 medium (16 ounce) loaf of Italian or French bread
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 tbsp oil
2 large cloves, 1 tbsp minced, or 1 tsp powdered garlic (use more if you love garlic!)
1 tbsp chopped herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, etc…)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

Make the spread

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on the stovetop on medium-low heat. While butter is melting, mince the garlic clove(s). Heat the oil in a sauté pan, and lightly cook the chopped garlic. Once garlic is cooked, add it to the melted butter. Add the chopped herbs to the butter and garlic, mix together, and take off of heat.

Some people like their garlic bread soft while others like theirs crunchy. Below are methods for making both types of garlic bread.

Baking Method 1 – Soft

Preheat oven to 350°. Slice the loaf of bread in half, horizontally. Place the bread halves on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Using a pastry brush, paint the butter, garlic, and herb mixture onto both halves of the loaf, making sure to cover the whole surface. Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until desired softness. If using Parmesan cheese, sprinkle on bread during the last 5 minutes of baking.

Baking Method 2 – Crunchy

Turn on the broiler in the oven. Slice the loaf of bread in half, horizontally. Place the bread halves on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Paint the butter, garlic, and herb mixture onto the halves of bread just like in Method 1. Sprinkle cheese, if using, on halves of bread. Place baking sheet in oven on the highest rack. Broil on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the bread starts to crisp and the cheese bubbles. Be careful to watch the bread carefully while it is cooking because it can go from perfectly crunchy to burnt in a matter of seconds.

Once your bread is cooked, using either the Soft or Crunchy method, remove from oven. Slice the bread into 1 to 2 inch thick slices using a serrated knife or pizza cutter, and enjoy! Garlic bread also goes great with steak, chili, and salad. Betty from Betty’s Kitchen has put together a great video explaining how to prepare and cook basic garlic bread, see below:

Variations on the basic recipe

The basic recipe above is for delicious and easy to make garlic bread. However, there are many other ingredients that you can add to the above recipe to fit your taste. Below are a few ideas for ways to jazz up your garlic bread.

• Heidi from the 101 Cookbooks blog (www.101cookbooks.com) recommends adding chopped cloves and lemon zest to garlic bread.
• You can add 1 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese to make mozzarella cheese bread.
• Chopped olives and feta cheese will give your bread a Mediterranean flavor.
• Canned chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce will give your bread a smoky and spicy flavor.
• Garlic bread also tastes great dipped in marinara, alfredo, or pesto sauce.

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