This is my recipe for slow roasted tomato sauce…aka the best use of those extra garden tomatoes.
Last year was a surprising bumper crop of tomatoes from our garden. Four “Early Girl” tomato plants yielded buckets of tomatoes every week. Suddenly we were faced with a question that was never a problem before: what to do with all those extra tomatoes.
Some we diced and froze, some we ate fresh, some we cooked in stir fries or added to salads, but the hands-down favourite was definitely the Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce. There are a lot of recipes out there, but here’s what worked best for us. I’ll outline how to make the basic sauce, what the best uses are for it, and how to store it.
Our Everyday Guide Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
tomatoes (whatever kind you have, however many you have, but at least enough to cover a cookie sheet)
Making the basic sauce
Preheat oven to 250F (120C).
Wash your tomatoes, remove the stem and the hard part under the stem (what is that called?). Spread the whole tomatoes out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet.
Drizzle a ¼ cup of olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
Peel 4 cloves of garlic and tuck them in with the tomatoes.
Put your cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 2-3 hours. When done the tomatoes should look wrinkled and squishy, but not browned. They will be extremely soft.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven, let them cool slightly, and then blend them in a blender or food processor, in batches, until smooth. You will have a more textured sauce than if you removed the seeds and peel, but both the texture and flavour will be awesome (trust me).
Ready to stop now?
Either pop the sauce in the fridge to use over the next few days, or freeze it. I like to freeze the sauce in ziploc bags lying flat in the freezer, in 2 cup portions. They take up little space that way, and 2 cups is about how much my family uses in a meal.
Note: Please do not can this sauce. It isn’t formulated for that, and I’d feel awfully guilty if you got botulism.
Want to keep processing the sauce?
This basic sauce is good, but often requires a little more attention before it’s pasta-worthy. Whether you’re thawing from frozen, or giving some attention to the just roasted sauce, I suggest giving the sauce a taste and see what needs to be adjusted. More salt? Some pepper? Does it need some oregano or basil? Warm the sauce in a pot on your stove and add the seasonings to taste. I find the sauce is often a bit too watery, at this stage, but this will depend on your tomatoes. A low simmer will reduce the sauce and intensify the flavour. Make sure you stir the sauce occasionally and remove from heat once it has thickened.
This is also the stage where I suggest adding some red or white wine, if you like the flavour.
At this point you can freeze the sauce as described above, if it’s never been frozen before, or enjoy it with pasta.
What else can you do with this sauce?
Pizza: It’s an excellent pizza sauce. Reduce the sauce further in a small pot on medium heat (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn) and use with your favourite crust and toppings. You can also add italian seasoning, red pepper, and/or oregano to bump up the pizza sauce flavour.
Soup: I don’t even like tomato soup, but this is awesome. For one person, warm 1 cup of the finished sauce in a small pot. Add ¼ cup of milk or cream (you can eyeball this). Warm the soup, then serve yourself a bowl and add salt/pepper if needed. Want to make it fancier? Add some shredded old cheddar, crumbles of goat cheese, or a tablespoon of ricotta to your bowl. Croutons are an excellent addition, and no one ever went wrong with some thinly sliced fresh basil added just before eating.
Snazzier sauce: Add caramelized onions, or sauteed mushrooms. Julienned spinach cooks down quickly in warmed sauce and adds subtle flavour. Some cream and a handful of grated parmesan ups the decadence level.
Enjoy! And I hope your tomato harvest is abundant!