Roast tomato sauce

I recently traded with a friend who had too many tomatoes and no time. Since I had the opposite, it was a perfect match. I made 8 quarts of crushed organic tomatoes and kept half; and two weeks later it was time to start again. I supplemented by buying a few pecks of “seconds” tomatoes at our local farmer’s stand, and got to work on a roast tomato sauce.

The tomatoes were sliced and laid face-up on foil. Seasoned with balsamic vinegar, fennel, oregano, kosher salt, garlic powder, and brown sugar, they then roasted at 350F. I tossed in a few big onions and two heads of garlic to boot.

I used every single rack in all three of my ovens; I had to improvise baking sheets because I used every one I own.

Two hours later the tomatoes were soft and dehydrated, and full of all that concentrated tomato-sugar-caramelized-goodness that a long slow roast will give them. (You can do this even with bland, mealy storebought tomatoes, and I often do since they’re just not good fresh eating. They’re one of my very favorite things paired with a buttery pastry crust and creamy homemade mozzarella).

I popped them in the food processor skins and all, adding only the accumulated juices. The texture was just right for a thick, rich, chunky sauce.

To half the sauce I added several cubes of my frozen basil puree; this was canned as pasta/pizza sauce. The other half became ketchup. It got laced with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, ladled into cheesecloth, hung over a bowl for several hours, then squeezed and kneaded – till my hands ached! – to get out as much tomato juice as I could.

You see, last year I tried using the crockpot method to simmer my ketchup down to a schmeary consistency. Not only did it not work – it was still super runny – but it simmered for so long that it developed an unattractive brown color and started tasting more like tomato paste than anything related to a fresh tomato. This time I wanted to capture as much of that deliciously caramelized fresh-roast tomato flavor as I could.

I think it worked. It was delicious. And this way I got to keep the juice, too.

About a bushel of tomatoes rendered just nine pints of roast-garlic-basil tomato sauce, two pints of brown-sugar ketchup, and two pints of roast-tomato juice (pizza in a jar!) that will be fabulous as a base for soups and stews.

Will I be making roast-tomato sauce and ketchup again? I don’t know. It was so much work compared to other methods. Still, the results were so delicious that I might just be morally obligated  – you know, to spread the love.

7 Responses to “Roast tomato sauce”

  1. debbie swickard Says:

    Ohhh, that looks so good!!! I’ve never seen this method before. Mom always cooked the tomatoes on the stove for hours on end, but her sauce never got as thick as yours. Slow roasting in the oven must be the secret. Too bad she’s passed away. This is something I’m sure she would have loved to try!

  2. diana Says:

    Well Debbie, you should try it too. It’s actually easier than I made it sound – I was still exhausted from squeeeeeeeeezing all the ketchup. (Which turned out the consistency of tomato paste, so I don’t even think the squeezing was necessary!) But really: slice, season, roast, blend. Adjust seasonings (but you probably won’t have to). I add about 1 more tsp vinegar per jar just to be safe. And you don’t have to can it or even blend it; just lay the whole roasted tomatoes on puff pastry or a pie crust, top with cheese and oh it’s delicious!

  3. Heidi Says:

    Sounds yummy, but you know your Da’–any tomatoes not in salads are destined for Spiced Tomato Jam…
    our tomatoes are still green, sigh. But I have enuf to do with the plums, necatarines, apples and the grapes decided to make their presence known in a big way this year. Help–need grape recipes for flame grapes. will try jam first.
    p.s.: read your e-mails…

  4. Widelawns Says:

    I LOVE roasted tomato sauce. It’s my trick for when the tomatoes in the store are all pink and mealy and have no taste and adding roasted tomatoes to dishes that call for tomatoes makes sure that the whole thing doesn’t get watery. I like to put a few slices of roasted tomatoes on top of my baked mac and cheese too. Another thing I do with them is roast them with only salt and pepper and maybe a little sugar if they need it and then puree them. Then add them to chicken stock with heavy cream and tarragon (you could even throw in a splash of white wine too) for the best tomato soup ever. I don’t like tomato soup with basil because it tastes like eating a bowl of straight spaghetti sauce, which is why I use tarragon instead, but you could use whatever herb combo you like.

  5. diana Says:

    I agree! I only just discovered roast tomatoes last year through Ina Garten, but now I feel like I have to share them with everybody. And I almost can’t wait till winter, because I’ll have an excuse to open (and sample) all the roast tomato sauces and that ketchup I made. I’ve always put salsa in my mac n’ cheese to try and sneak some vegetables to SofĂ­a, but maybe roast tomatoes would be better – great idea!

  6. Erin Says:

    I had to search for this old post. I have tons of tomatoes, no time to can, 6 mouths (2 grown ups, 2 teens, 10yo Rowan who things she needs to eat like a teen and peanut who lives on air but can be counted on to waste a good bit for her hair and face facial ????)

  7. Diana Guillermo Says:

    I’m amazed that you remembered that it even existed, lol! OMG it’s been a million years since I’ve seen you and “peanut” must be so big now! How did you get so many tomatoes? Do you have a garden this year?

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