I think most of us are guilty of buying tinned or jarred tomato sauce from the supermarket despite knowing that it’s so easy to make. So I decided to write a post about it, particularly roasted tomato sauce, because it really is very easy to make and it’s much cheaper and healthier than anything we can buy in the shops.
The most important ingredient is, of course, the tomato itself. Most chefs and cooks tell us that only ripe tomatoes make the best tomato sauce, but I disagree. Any tomatoes are suitable – I tend to buy them at the market, where they sell them in large bowls, at the end of the day, for almost nothing. Some of them are often bruised or rather soft but even these (or at least part of them) can be saved and used!
The only thing you need to do is wash them well and remove the green parts. Then cut them in half and put them in a baking tray, drizzle with some oil and season, then the tray is ready to go into the oven.
If you want the sauce to be more richly flavoured, add a spoonful of dried herbs (such as oregano, marjoram) or woody fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme – or you can use mixed herbs such as Italian, herbes de Provence etc. I sometimes tuck a couple of cloves of garlic (unpeeled) between the tomatoes, then discard the skin of the garlic just before blending. This way the garlic doesn’t get burned and bitter.
If the tomatoes are not very ripe, I like to sprinkle some brown sugar on the top – this not only sweetens the tomatoes but slightly caramelises them too, giving the sauce more depth.
When I make the sauce with Italian dishes in mind, I drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes – then I blend the tomatoes with a handful of fresh basil. This version is perfect for meatballs and pastas!
So, as you can see, you don’t really need a recipe but here is one that’s easy follow and you can’t go wrong with it.
- 1kg tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fried herbs (such as oregano, marjoram, thyme or rosemary)
- Salt and pepper
- Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Brown sugar (optional)
What to do:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a roasting dish. Scatter the garlic, herbs salt & pepper, then drizzle with oil and a spoonful of balsamic vinegar (optional). If the tomatoes are not ripe, dust with a spoonful of sugar.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and start browning.
- Transfer the tomatoes and the pan juices to a pan or liquidiser and blend until smooth. You should get a thick, textured sauce. If you need a smooth, silky sauce you can pass it through a sieve but I rarely do this.
Alternatively try these recipes:
What to do with the sauce?
- If you want to use the sauce within a few days, pour it into a jar, let it cool and keep it chilled.
- If you want to use it within a few months, you can freeze it or preserve it. Pour it into sterilized jars and seal the jars well (these can be kept in a larder or cellar, although I keep these jars in my fridge).
- Freezing is an excellent option. I normally spoon some into mini baby plastic containers – these are perfect portions for pizza base sauce or I use them as individual pasta sauce. These are also ideal for making a quick soup, I just mix it with a cup of vegetable or chicken stock – et voilà – I’ve made a tasty lunch!
Why make your own roasted tomato sauce?
As I mentioned above, it’s actually much cheaper than buying ready-made tomato sauce but, more importantly, it’s so much healthier and tastier. It is also very versatile – you can use it for pasta dishes, meatballs, stuffed vegetables, dips, soups, stews etc. Here are a some links to recipes for to get you going:
- Roasted tomato and aubergine (eggplant) sauce
- Pasta with tomato sauce and chicory
- Roasted pepper and tomato soup
- Roasted tomato and garlic soup
- Spaghetti with meatballs in tomato sauce
- Roast tomato soup
You can substitute the tomato sauce in these recipes with your home-made roasted tomato sauce:
- Stuffed lasagne rolls
- Meatballs in tomato sauce
- Stuffed pepper in tomato sauce
- Fried marrow with tomato sauce