It’s time to talk tomatoes. They’re FINALLY in season, about a month later than normal due to the cool, wet summer we’ve had. And the not so patient waiting has made me want to gobble up tomatoes at every meal. We’ve gotten some beautiful heirlooms in our CSA that have become a favorite snack – sliced and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper, eaten over the sink with the juices running down my chin. Tomatoes and sweet corn are the tastes of summer for me.
I bought a quart of romas at the market on Sunday, and while I’d originally planned to make oven-dried tomatoes with them, I decided to go for a roasted tomato sauce instead. This sauce isn’t so much for pasta – it’s brimming with chunks of celery and bell pepper, and honestly, I’m not a huge fan of celery in my pasta. But this sauce is the perfect flavor base for a pot of hearty minestrone or wild rice and vegetable soup. Since this is not hearty soup season, I canned the sauce and tucked it away in the pantry for winter.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Makes 2 1/2 pints
1 1/2 quarts roma tomatoes
4 sprigs rosemary, minced
7-8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced small
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery leaves, minced (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the Roma tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Mince the rosemary and sprinkle it over the bottom of a full sheet pan. Place the sliced roma tomatoes on the sheet pan, cut side down, in one layer. Toss 7-8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled onto the sheet pan. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes.
- Roast the tomatoes for 40 minutes, then carefully remove the pan from the oven, trying not to slosh hot tomato juices on the floor, and set the pan on the counter. Cover the sheet pan snugly with aluminum foil, and allow the tomatoes to steam for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the tinfoil and use a fork to remove most of the skins from the tomatoes – if a few bits of skin won’t come off, don’t worry about it. Squeeze the garlic out of their peels – the garlic should easily squirt out when squeezed.
- Pour the tomatoes, juices, herbs and garlic into a 2 quart bowl. Let it cool for a few minutes, then wash your hands and then squish up the tomatoes with your fingers until you have a chunky tomato sauce. Wash your hands, then set the tomatoes aside.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then saute the onion, bell pepper and celery for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and softened. Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30, until the celery is softened. Add in the basil, stir, and you’re done. Enjoy your tomato sauce, freeze it, or can it for winter storage.