Until last week, I’d recommended Joanne’s method of roasting tomatoes for tomato sauce, but I hadn’t made it myself (if you don’t count one attempt). Sister Lori endorsed the method heartily, so I passed it on to Lynn, who pronounced it genious… and then turned around and gave me 2 1/2 gallons (dry measure) of gorgeous organic plum tomatoes that she and her family had grown.
Hooray! It was time to try it for myself for real, and I couldn’t be happier with the approach. The photo above shows the results…and I didn’t cook all the tomatoes!
So here’s the method in recipe form. You’ll note it’s highly imprecise, but I think that’s because it can be. Do what works best for you.
Roasted tomato sauce
- Large quantity plum or slicer tomatoes
- 1/4 large onion per quart (dry measure) tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic per quart tomatoes
- Ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Wash and trim tomatoes of anything you wouldn’t want to eat, such stem scars. Halve small tomatoes (such as plums) or cut large tomatoes into chunks. Let’s say 1-inch cubes, but larger is fine.
- Distribute tomatoes in large ovenproof pans with a lip to catch juices. Tomatoes don’t have to be in a single layer, but don’t mound appreciably above the height of the pan’s lip, as the tomatoes will give off juice.
- Peel and trim onion and garlic and distribute among tomatoes. Generously sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper, and drizzle oil over all. I stirred the mixture a little to distribute the oil and probably used about 1 cup oil for the 6 quarts or more tomatoes.
- Place pans on racks in 350-degree oven and roast about 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have cooked down considerably, and the onions and garlic are soft. Expect the tomatoes to be sitting in some liquid. The following photos show one of the pans fresh from the oven and a closeup of the tomatoes.
- Cool, then transfer tomato mixture in batches to the bowl of food processor and puree, skin and all. Marvelous! Transfer to freezer containers and freeze, or use as desired. Yield: A lot of tomato sauce.
Notes: It’s OK to use multiple oven racks, but try to leave room for air to circulate around the pans some. After 1 hour or so, you might want to stir tomatoes and rotate pans for more even roasting. Feel free to add herbs to the mixture as you roast for additional flavor.
The finished sauce had a consistency similar to commercial canned crushed tomatoes, but the flavor was much better. Yes, I could detect a touch of bitterness, no doubt due to the skin and seeds. No, I don’t care. (If you use plum tomatoes and the seeds offend you, they’re easily scraped out before roasting.)
Yes, the sauce would be more refined if you passed it through a food mill or cone sieve, and it’s perfectly fine if you want to. I took Joanne’s word and decided it wasn’t worth the effort for such a large bunch of sauce.