September 13, 2004
Roasted Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe not just for a sauce made with roasted tomatoes, but for a tomato-based sauce that is entirely roasted. The sauce takes about an hour and a half to make but only 15 minutes of that time will you be active. Great for a hectic weeknight dinner.

This recipe originated with an idea from Deborah Madison's great Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which I made lazier and easier. I changed the flavors, ingredients and technique so I feel comfortable calling this my own recipe, inspired by DM's great work.

So here's my recipe for a sweet delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce:

Roasted Tomato Sauce

2 1/2 pounds roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 medium-sized sweet white onions, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
salt, pepper
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence (or Italian herbs, or other herbs if you prefer. If you use thyme or rosemary or some othe "woody" herb, remove any stalks or stems before the blending step.)

Put the halved tomatoes cut side up in a sheet cake pan or other pan with high sides (at least 2"). If possible, make it just one layer.

Spread chopped onion on top of the tomatoes.

Drizzle olive oil all over contents of the pan. Use the pretty-good stuff. You don't need the best olive oil for this application.

Salt and pepper liberally, sprinkle herbs on top.

Put in a 400 F oven for 45 minutes. You can go longer if you want sweeter onions and more intense tomato taste.

Scoop and pour contents of the pan (there will be a lot of liquid in the bottom) into a big bowl where you can use my favorite kitchen gadget - the immersion blender.

Blend the sauce a lot or a little according to your tastes. If you have a food mill you can pass the sauce through it to remove the tomato skins. They don't bother me, but some people dislike their texture quite a bit.

If you don't have a food mill and hate the tomato skin texture, you can start the recipe differently by scoring the tomatoes while they're whole with an X at either end, and briefly blanching them until the skin begins to come away. Peel the tomatoes, halve them and continue the recipe.

This is way too much work for a casual sauce for me, so I just deal with the peels that, as I said, don't bother me.

Simmer the sauce in a large skillet and reduce over medium heat until you reach the desired thickness. Taste, and adjust seasonings. If the tomatoes you had were too tart, you can add a little sugar (but just a little, please) to balance the sauce. More herbs are also welcome at this step.

If serving on pasta, stir the cooked pasta into the sauce immediately after boiling the noodles so they can soak up the flavors.

The resulting sauce has a concentrated tomato flavor, sweetness from the onions and tomatoes, and just a touch of pungency from the garlic. Once you've got the basic recipe down, you can add red pepper flakes if you'd like it hotter, olives, parmesan, basil, roasted red peppers, just about anything.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at September 13, 2004 9:37 AM | TrackBack Print-friendly version
Comments

Barrett, by a strange coincidence I made a similar sauce earlier this week. Or is it a seasonal thing - all the lovely ripe tomatoes in my kitchen were about to go bad so I had to do something drastic with them! Anyway, I did the same, but minus the onions and plus a few more cloves of garlic. On the skins point, there is a lazy way to deal with them: just roast them with the cross hatches (or with the tops removed as I did) and you'll find the skins pull away easily once they are done. Blanching is entirely superfluous.

I have to say it was the base for the best tomato sauce I have ever made. I'm seriously thinking of buying a few kilos more and storing the sauce in the freezer!

Posted by Meg in Paris on September 13, 2004 at 10:56 AM

Interesting on the skins. I've never peeled tomatoes without blanching. I'll try it next time.

Posted by barrett on September 13, 2004 at 11:13 AM

Forgot to mention - I also sloshed in a bit of red wine that was hanging about from a mostly finished bottle!

Posted by Meg in Paris on September 13, 2004 at 3:07 PM
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