Mojo de Ajo – Roasted Garlic in olive oil

I love growing garlic and elephant garlic in my Sunnyvale garden. They are easy to plant; hardy to drought and frost; they produce beautiful flowers (if you let them) and they produce garlic.

The harvest process is not difficult but it takes some time: You stop watering the garlic for a few weeks; pull up the plant; let it dry for a few more weeks (preferably in a cool dark location).

In our household, there is trouble with this process. A dozen head of Garlic drying in the kitchen smells very potent (or stinks depending on who is telling the story). Ditto on storing it in a spare bedroom. Storing it in a small tool-room was a no-go: It adjoined the craft studio and the smell was infiltrating the fabric. The current solution is outside in a box that stores the patio cushions in the wet season.

This year’s early season harvest was about 4 cups.

What to do with a lot of garlic? I found a recipe from Rick Bayless for Mojo de Ajo.

What to do with Mojo de Ajo?

Here is what Heid Swanson of 101 Cookbook has to say:
Mojo de ajo – let’s discuss. It’s a simple sauce made from olive oil roasted garlic cloves combined, primarily, with fresh orange and lime juice. You mash and blend the caramelized garlic with a short list of other ingredients until you have a thick, unctuous sauce capable of being both drizzled or slathered. You need it in your repertoire. I tend to use mojo de ajo more as a condiment versus a sauce, but you can go either route. It’s great when you want to add a touch of flare, punch, or punctuation to a dish.

  • Drizzled and swirled over this carrot soup.
  • Mixed into plain Greek yogurt, dolloped on a frittata.
  • Slathered on grilled or broiled slabs of good bread.
  • Hand-rolled marbles of goat cheese covered with mojo de ajo for a cheese plate.
  • Marinated tofu (and then tempeh) in it overnight, then steamed to cook.
  • Tossed with various grains and greens, and noodles throughout the week.
  • As a finishing splash to a pan of sautéed mushrooms.
  • As a dipping sauce (or drizzle) on bites of deeply roasted sweet potato.
  • Whisked into aioli as a finishing flavor tweak. Great on quinoa patties.
  • Used that boosted aioli on the first sautéed artichokes of the season


  • 4 large heads of garlic OR 10 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 or 3 cups fruity olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Break the heads of garlic apart, then mash each clove (a fist against the side of a knife is what I do) to release the clove from its papery skin; if using already-peeled garlic, scoop the cloves into a heavy plastic bag and use a rolling pin to mash them slightly.

Stir together the garlic, oil and salt in an 8×8-inch baking pan(note from John: I used a ceramic flan pan) (make sure all the garlic is submerged), slide it into the oven and bake until the garlic is soft and lightly brown, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Add the lime juice and return to the oven for 20 minutes for the garlic to absorb the lime and turn golden brown. (If you’re using the larger quantity of oil, ladle off 1 cup—no garlic cloves—and store it in a cool dry place for use in salad dressing or sautéing.)

Using an old-fashioned potato masher or large fork, mash the garlic into a coarse puree. Pour the mixture into a wide-mouth storage container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to enjoy some deliciousness. The mojo will last for up to three months as long as the garlic stays submerged under the oil.

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