As the busy, busy summer winds down, it’s time for tomatoes. I want to tell you about my Roasted Tomato Sauce so that you too can enjoy this incredibly flavorful and versatile sauce. But you’ll need to get busy while there is still an abundance of this delicious fruit!
Last week I posted some photos on my Pinot Mom Facebook page of my “annual roasting of the tomatoes”. The post got lots of questions about how and why, so I thought I’d share with you.
Every year I round-up as many tomatoes as possible. By tomorrow I will have roasted and pureed almost 100 pounds of tomatoes. I’m stocking the larder (or in this case the freezer). Since I don’t garden, I have to get my order in early with my friends who are gardeners – “I’ll take anything you can’t use!” – and also with our friends who own the CSA we’ve been getting a weekly delivery of organic vegetables from for years. It’s been so warm this year that there is a bumper crop – and early too.
My method for roasting and pureeing the tomatoes is so dead simple you can hardly call it a recipe. And when I’ve finished I have gallons and gallons of luscious, rich, organic tomato sauce ready to be used all fall and winter in soups, stews, sauces, lasagne, chili and more. I use it anyplace that calls for canned tomato puree or tomato sauce. Everything is the richer for it.
The first thing I do is wash the tomatoes of course, (I feel so lucky to have vegetables that actually have dirt on them, as opposed to the sterile, shrink-wrapped variety). Then I lay out a rimmed sheet pan and heat the oven to about 300 degrees.(Since I have a double oven and am doing so much volume, I actually use four sheet pans at a time, but you can vary this for whatever quantity of tomatoes you’re dealing with.)
I quickly go through the tomatoes, laying out them out in a single layer on the pan. If they are large I cut them in half or quarters. I also cut away any bruises or yucky parts. Anything smaller about 3 or 4 inches round just gets left whole. I don’t bother to peel or core the fruit. I even leave the stems on. Once they’re roasted I put them through the food mill and that separates out anything you wouldn’t want in your sauce.
Then I break up a head of garlic, leaving the skins on, and scatter about half of that amongst the tomatoes. Of course you can use more or less garlic to your taste. Next I season the whole shebang generously with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Now I walk myself out to the yard and cut some rosemary stems and also oregano and marjoram. I rinse these and scatter them on top of the tomatoes. Lastly I drizzle it all with a generous amount of olive oil, making sure the garlic cloves get coated in the oil too.
Slide that pan in the oven and let it roast for a long time. Usually about 3-4 hours. The slow roasting will coax beautiful flavors out of all those tomatoes. Your house will smell wonderful too, by the way.
Once I decide they’re done (all of the tomatoes have collapsed some and they’re shoulders are nicely browned) I pull them out and let them cool to room temperature.
The next step is to puree the lot of it. I keep an inexpensive food mill pretty much just for this purpose (oh, and making applesauce). It gets stashed away in the basement for most of the year, but makes its grand appearance in September and October.
I slide the roasted tomatoes, garlic cloves, herbs and all of the oil and juices that are on the pan into the food mill and churn.
It’s a little messy but it doesn’t take long. All of the good stuff comes through the mill and into the bowl I’ve placed below. The stems and skins stay in the mill and eventually get tossed in the compost.
Once its all pureed, I use a big ladle to scoop the sauce into Quart-sized zip lock freezer bags and I freeze. I don’t know how long these would ultimately last in the freezer, I usually end up using up all of my stash by about March or April. Last year I didn’t make enough – but that’s not going to happen this year!
I hope this helps for all those who were asking how and why. Comment below if you have any questions!