I’ve probably told this story before, but when my husband and I were moving from Durango Colorado to Walla Walla Washington, he asked me, “what do you want to grow more of, now that you have a longer growing season”? And my answer was “tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes”! Can you ever have too many home-grown tomatoes? Well, come mid August, it might seem like it.
I have several go-to canning recipes when tomato season hits. A basic tomato salsa, a roasted tomato-tomatillo salsa (we eat a lot of salsa), and basic canned tomatoes to go into everything from stews to soups come wintertime. But canning tomatoes takes time. There’s a lot of peeling and chopping and heating and stirring and ladling and boiling going on. So when the tomatoes are getting soft, and staring accusingly at me from the counter, reminding me that I waited the whole year for this and now I’m not taking advantage of it, I make roasted tomato sauce and throw it in the freezer. Yes, I’ve made tomato sauce and canned it. It’s good. It takes FOREVER. This is better. And doesn’t take forever. And most of the time it does take is in the oven while I’m doing other things.
I got this recipe (if you can call it that. It never comes out exactly the same way twice) from two sources. The first was here. Which I found in a round about way through the Farmgirl Fare blog. Curse words abound in this post, which is actually very funny. About this same time, my friend Rachel Turiel of 6512 and Growing posted a similar recipe in Rhythm of the Home Magazine. That link is no longer active. But I had saved the recipe to a file, and so had it. I ended up combining both recipes and just kind of winging it. When the tomatoes are ripe, you really can’t go wrong.
Here’s what I do.
Awesome Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce
Take whatever tomatoes are most likely to head south in the next few days. Wash, rinse, core, cut out any bad spots, cut in half if really large, and place on a sheet pan. Note: it needs to be a sheet pan or a roasting pan. There’s gonna be a lot of juice! Also note: you don’t have to peel the tomatoes. Especially if they are heirlooms, the skins will break down in the roasting and blending, and you get to keep all those great extra vitamins. Seriously. No peeling. HUGE time saver.
Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic. Do several if you are a huge garlic lover or if the heads are small. Place on pan with the tomatoes.
Peel an onion and cut into quarters (onion is optional, but I like it). Put in on the pan too, nestled in between the tomatoes.
Drizzle a generous portion of good olive oil and salt over the whole pan.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it. You want the tomatoes to collapse and release some juice, and stuff to be lightly charred on the edges, but not dried out. How much time that takes is going to depend on how big your tomatoes are, and how juicy they are, and how packed in your pan is.
Once done, and cooled a bit, throw tomatoes and all that glorious juice and oil into a food processor or blender. Squeeze out the garlic from the head and add it to the mix. Blend until smooth. Taste.
Does it need more salt? A touch of sugar? Lightly chop a handful of fresh basil leaves and add that too. Throw in a glug of red wine, or balsamic vinegar. Add some fresh ground black pepper, fresh or dried oregano or marjoram, red chili flakes….you know what you like in your sauce. Taste and tweak as you see fit. Stop adding things when you can’t stop licking the spoon.
Use immediately, store in the fridge for a few days, or freeze in freezer bags for an amazing taste of summer in February. I freeze it in about 3 cup amounts.
WHY can’t you can this sauce instead? Two reasons. Way too much oil, and not enough acid. It wouldn’t be safe. Seriously. Don’t do it!
I normally make two or three batches of this in August and September out of the weird, cracked, or otherwise not quite sellable heirlooms. There is just about nothing better on a cold harried winter day. It also makes a great pizza sauce!
Miles Away Farm Blog © 2014, where we’re not quite up to our eyeballs in tomatoes, but we can see them from here.