I’m not sure how it happened but it’s September 1st. Which means it’s the time of year when I take an afternoon to make a huge batch of the easiest roasted tomato sauce. It’s the simplest way to extend the best part of summer (ripe tomatoes) as the season closes. See below for how I make it, ways to vary it, and ways to use the sauce. Want to the sauce in action?! Head here to watch!
STEP ONE: procure a lot of tomatoes. I used all of these San Marzano-ish tomatoes from Long Season Farm, but have successfully made this sauce with a mixture of different types of tomatoes including squishy, too-ripe heirlooms and plenty of cherry tomatoes. Pro-tip if you’re shopping at a farmers’ market or directly from a farmer: ask if they have any ‘seconds’ (meaning, not the ‘first’ pick…seconds tend to be just as good, but a little bruised or blemished…a.k.a. perfect for sauce and usually significantly discounted).
STEP TWO: clean + trim your tomatoes. Rinse your tomatoes, trim off any bits that you feel need trimming off (don’t overthink this— remember it will all get pureed, but if there’s a hard stem or a tiny bit of mold or something, just cut it off!). I usually trim off the stem ends and add them to my stock pot but someone on Instagram asked me why I do this and all I could think was…habit. You can probably just leave them!
STEP THREE: roughly chop or halve your tomatoes. Depending on their shape and size, roughly chop or just halve your tomatoes (you can leave cherry tomatoes whole). This allows the juice to get moving more quickly and keeps your oven from having burst tomato mess everywhere. It also allows your olive oil + seasonings (more on those next) to really get in there.
STEP FOUR: oil + season your tomatoes. Place your cleaned, trimmed + halved tomatoes in whatever fits them that can go in your oven. For this large batch of sauce I used my biggest roasting dish and two Dutch ovens. Use what you have! Drizzle with the tomatoes with a TON of olive oil (this becomes the fat in the sauce / here’s my fave from California Olive Ranch) and sprinkle GENEROUSLY with kosher salt, dried oregano + garlic powder (my favorite is this one from Burlap & Barrel). Mix everything well with your hands. This is a sensory experience! Enjoy!
STEP FIVE: roast! Roast at 400ºF (200ºC) until bubbling and browned a little on top. There’s no need to do a thing while they’re roasting. Let them go for at least an hour. The longer they roast, the more concentrated the flavor. As long as you don’t evaporate all of the liquid, you’re good. This is hard to mess up! Let the tomatoes cool slightly before blending.
STEP SIX: blend + store! After letting the tomatoes cool slightly, puree in batches in your blender until super smooth. Yes, everything is going in the blender— the tomato skins + seeds, plus all of the juice from the roasting dishes. Life is too short to peel or seed tomatoes. If you’re doing this in a bunch of blender batches, it’s best to pour it all back into a big pot or bowl and whisk it well to combine to make sure everything is well-combined. Season to taste with salt!
Pour the sauce into containers + freeze it (or put in Ziploc bags, freeze flat, and then line up the frozen bags). Or you can can the sauce in glass jars (I would add a little lemon juice or citric acid just to be safe!!). Here’s a helpful guide to that.
WAYS YOU CAN VARY THIS:
use a variety of different types of tomatoes
add fresh garlic + onions (or anything in the allium family like shallots or scallions)— just roughly chop and add to the roasting party
add fresh herbs like big sprigs of basil and/or rosemary and just discard the stems before pureeing (if some roasted leaves get in the sauce, no worries)
vary the spices— instead of garlic powder + dried oregano, try ground coriander + ground cumin or maybe go in an even ‘warmer’ direction and do ground ginger + a pinch of ground cinnamon
make it spicy with dried pepper flakes or fresh chili peppers (roast them with the tomatoes or add raw when blending the sauce)
WAYS YOU CAN USE THE SAUCE:
as is, it’s the perfect smooth tomato sauce that’s ready for spaghetti, pizza, meatballs— whatever!
use for eggplant parm or anything in the parm department
it’s the beginning of the most incredible tomato soup— just heat up with a splash of something creamy (heavy cream, half-and-half, coconut milk if you’re dairy-free) / if it’s too thick for you, just thin with stock (chicken or vegetable)
turn that simple tomato soup into a more complex one by adding things like shredded chicken, corn kernels + beans…top with grated cheddar before serving….or sauté a bunch of chopped vegetables, add the roasted tomato sauce + some cooked beans and serve with grated parmesan— delicious minestrone-ish soup!
use as the base for any seafood stew like cioppino
delicious shakshuka: sauté a chopped onion + a chopped bell pepper in a big skillet, season with ground cumin + a little bit of harissa, add about 2 or 3 cups of the sauce, bring to a boil, crack some eggs in the skillet, sprinkle with feta, lower the heat + cover the skillet and cook until the eggs are set
blend with cilantro + pickled jalapeños for a delicious salsa
use instead of canned tomatoes in your next pot of chili
Thanks for being here! I’ll be back with more soon. xo, Julia
Keep Calm and Cook On is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber (paid subscribers get extra content like bonus recipes + the ability to comment). Thanks!
Just what I needed to get through my load of tomatoes. Thank you!
👀👀 wishing I didn’t live in a teeny London flat with a teeny London freezer so I could make alllll the sauce. May have to free up some freezer real estate 🤔