Whether you prefer to call this time of year “late summer” or “early autumn”, there is no doubt that tomato season is in full swing. Local farmer’s markets, grocery stores and home garden stands are bursting with fresh tomatoes of countless varieties.
One of the easiest ways to preserve the unique flavour of summer vegetables, especially tomatoes, is by making a basic, roasted tomato sauce that can be adapted later on when the winter chill has set in and the tastes of summer have faded from our taste buds. Roasted sauce requires very little effort, and roasting the tomatoes brings out a layer of richness in taste that fresh tomatoes simply do not possess. The sauce can be frozen and enjoyed for months to come.
Roma tomatoes are the ideal variety, since they are a paste tomato containing few seeds, but any variety will work just as well.
For each batch of roasted tomato sauce, you will need :
- Approximately 25 Roma tomatoes. This number will vary with the variety used. Essentially, you will need enough tomatoes, halved, to cover a large baking sheet, cut side down.
- Two cloves of garlic, peeled.
- Half a medium-sized yellow onion.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Coarse salt and fresh pepper, to taste.
To make the sauce:
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Wash and core the tomatoes.
- Using a sharp paring knife, remove the core and stem, if present, from the tomatoes.
- Slice the tomatoes in half and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet or disposable aluminum oven liner.
- Tuck peeled garlic cloves in among the tomatoes.
- Slice the onion in half, peel, and then slice. Separate onion pieces and scatter among tomatoes.
- Drizzle all with olive oil.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over all.
- Roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and skins begin to brown.
- Transfer roasted tomatoes in batches to a blender and pulse until the sauce has reached the desired consistency.
- Transfer sauce into Ziploc freezer bags, marked clearly with the date and contents. Freeze bags horizontally on a cookie sheet. Once the bags are frozen, store them in the most convenient way in your freezer.
This sauce can be adopted for use in pasta recipes, Mexican cooking, or simply slathered over a fresh crust of Italian bread, to be enjoyed during a snowstorm. This sauce is exceptionally good when fresh or dried herbs are added before eating.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of cooking with fresh tomatoes this season, head on out to your local farmer’s market to find some before tomato season winds completely down for the year!