I have been making tomato sauce from the garden for over 30 years, but only recently did I come upon this method and I think it is the best. Why? Well it is easy for one thing. Just pop it in an oven, sit down to read a book or play with your kids or whatever, and get up every 15 minutes or so to stir it. The other reason is that the slow oven cooking caramelizes the sugars that are naturally present in the tomatoes giving a sweetness and intensity that you just cannot get with a stove-top tomato sauce. You will soon notice on this site that I often use a large roasting pan to make my favorite easy meals. If you do not have one yet, I highly recommend a large, dark, steel roasting pan. To tell you the truth, I have had mine so long I do not know who the manufacturer is but it is indispensable in my kitchen.
I tried to find a similar roasting pan to recommend, and after much searching I have determined that the closest thing is the Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized roasting pan. It is dark, which helps with the browning, and it does not have a non-stick coating. Many of the non-stick coatings can infuse your food with BPA or other plastics. Here is a link to the Calphalon site with the pan. http://store.calphalon.com/calphalon-commercial-hard-anodized-16x13x4-in-roasting-pan-with-rack/403899
I started with the harvest of tomatoes The rain was really coming down so we needed to salvage them before it was too late and they rotted. A lot of them were cracked and a few were also not as ripe as I would like. However, they are fall tomatoes, and usually those are the sweetest. The beautiful convoluted ones are called Costoluto Genovese. I used about 20 tomatoes for this recipe but the amounts are flexible. Just use what you have.
Remove the core of the tomatoes with a knife. You should use either a very sharp knife or a serrated knife when cutting ripe tomatoes.
Put them in boiling water for a minute or so to blanch and help with removing the skin. I take them out of the water with one of my favorite kitchen tools which is this Asian style handled strainer.
After they cool a bit remove the skin and break the tomatoes into rough pieces with your hands. Adrian is doing this over a bowl. We usually catch all the juices and scrape out most of the seeds into a bowl and discard them. I think the seeds make the sauce bitter. Put the chunks of tomatoes in another bowl ready for making the sauce. This can be done ahead of time and they can be refrigerated.
Chop some onions in large chunks. I used 2 red onions for this batch. I also peeled some whole garlic. It is not necessary to chop the garlic at all. I used 4 cloves. You can use just about any amount you would like from 2 cloves to 2 heads.
Oops, time to run out to the garden with a flashlight to grab some herbs. At least I caught a glimpse of the sunset….
I grabbed some of this fresh thyme and also some oregano. I kept the stems whole, no need to chop them. You can also add fresh basil, and if you do not have fresh herbs, dried ones are fine. It is not necessary to add herbs, but if you do, don’t overdo it. I would use about 1/2 teaspoon of each herb in this large batch.
Put about 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the roasting pan. Then all the big chunks of tomatoes, onions and whole cloves of garlic, along with the stalks of herbs, are thrown into the pan. Sometimes I have added chunks of red bell peppers or eggplant also. Even a few hot peppers can be added if you like a spicy marinara sauce. Put the pan into the very hot oven…400-450 degrees is good.
After 15 minutes, open the oven and gave it a stir. As you can see, the vegetables have released a lot of liquid.
Continue to open the oven every 15 minutes or so, giving it a stir, and then close the oven. Eventually the liquid will evaporate and it will brown around the edges. This step should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
It should look like this.
Here I am pulling the stems of the herbs out of the sauce. The actual herbs will have dissolved into the sauce and flavored it. How easy is that?
Now put the mixture in a bowl, and puree it with a hand blender until it is the desired level of smoothness. Notice the whole garlic clove in there. It will puree easily. The stick hand blender is another one of my indispensable kitchen tools. But you can cool it and put it in a food processor or a regular blender too.
This is it, the final sauce. It is delicious on pasta or as a base for soups. It also can be used on pizza…
I froze some to use later. Believe it or not that huge pile of tomatoes cooked down to about 2 quarts of delicious concentrated extract of tomato…
I do not recommend canning this recipe. However if you wanted to make an oven roasted tomato sauce using this method for canning, just use the amount of tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs recommended on this USDA website recipe. Then make sure to add the acid they recommend, and use their processing times.
© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.