Each year around July and August, there’s an abundance of tomatoes. Whether in your own garden, at the farmers’ markets, or in your grocer’s produce department, summer is the time for tomatoes.
Normally, I will use fresh tomatoes to make a lovely Insalata Caprese which is a lovely salad of sliced or quartered fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls or slices, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt, and a smattering of chopped fresh basil. My version of Insalata Caprese uses reduced balsamic vinegar for a rich caramel taste.
And at some point, either your zeal for purchase of fresh tomatoes, or your active tomato harvest will overload your kitchen countertops. That’s when roasting tomatoes makes a lot of sense. In fact, when they’re a bit soft and “past prime”, roasting makes a whole lot more sense than throwing them into the compost bin. The tomatoes will become sweet and rich and more concentrated in flavor. My rustic Roasted Tomato Sauce will please even the crankiest of palates.
I use my Roasted Tomato Sauce as a concentrated addition to regular tomato sauce, as a rich pizza sauce, ladled over pasta, as a dip for breaded mozzarella sticks, and as an accompaniment to grilled meats. It’s very versatile and satisfying.
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
Roasted Tomato Sauce
3 T olive oil
2 lb fresh tomatoes, stem ends removed, and cut into uniform pieces
Coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 c red wine
2 t dried basil or 1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T sugar, or to taste
1 c vegetable broth
1. Turn on oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.
3. Drizzle 1 T olive oil on the foil, then add tomatoes, the rest of the olive oil, and toss.
4. Sprinkle cracked pepper and coarse sea salt crystals over the tomatoes.
5. Bake for 20 mins or until the tomatoes start to become caramelized and slightly charred.
6. Remove the tomatoes from the foil on the baking sheet while they are still hot so they don’t stick. Run a spoon around the mixture so it will release easily.
7. Place tomatoes into a sauce pan. Add the wine, basil, and sugar.
8. Bring to a slight boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
9. Using a hand blender, blend the tomatoes until they are smooth, or you can leave some lumps for that “rustic” look and feel.
10. Add the vegetable broth to thin and simmer another 10 minutes.
Makes about 2 cups of sauce. This sauce is concentrated so you may want to thin with regular canned tomato sauce or more vegetable broth if it’s too concentrated for you.
If using cherry tomatoes, you may want to pierce each one with a toothpick so they don’t “explode” while baking. Using fresh basil makes this sauce taste like it’s straight from the garden! Make a few batches and freeze them for those cold winter evenings when you’d like a taste of summer.
Variations: Add 4 or 5 peeled cloves of garlic to roast with the tomatoes for a rich roasted garlic flavor. Add caramelized diced onion to the tomato mixture prior to blending if you like an oniony flavor with the tomatoes. Pear-shaped tomatoes are gorgeous just split lengthwise and roasted cut-side-up and used as a side dish rather than turning into sauce. If using the roasted tomato sauce as a pizza sauce, you will want to use less of the vegetable broth to maintain thickness for spreading on the pizza dough.
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