I can’t take any credit for today’s recipe, except that I had the good sense to latch onto it when I spotted it. Whether it’s the beginning or the end of the tomato harvest, there’s always a batch of tomatoes that isn’t big enough to can, but too many to eat fresh, and they’re too good to let sit around and spoil. The solution? Fire up your oven (that’s the downside), pull out your meat roaster or your broiler’s drip pan or any other heavy, deep pan (you can use a glass cake pan, but the oven temp is high and I get nervous with modern glass bakeware and high temperatures.)
And then make sure you’ve got a food mill. Don’t have one? Borrow one from your grandma or your elderly neighbor. Or buy one if you can find one (my food mill hunt took me all over Murfreesboro and Smyrna before I found one on the back shelf of an off-the-beaten-path hardware store where they had to wipe the dust off the box to read the price tag.) Hmmm, now that I think about it, you might want to round up the food mill first!
And the best part of all? No boiling water, peeling or slipping the skins or coring. You just coarsely chop them and roast them.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
2 quarts (give or take) ripe tomatoes; washed and stems removed, then quartered
2-3 onions, coarsely chopped
4-5 peppers (sweet or hot), coarsely chopped (leave the seeds for heat; remove for less heat)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves, diced) or more to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 teaspoons of basil, oregano or mixed Italian herbs (optional)
Preheat oven to 450. Place all vegetables in roasting pan; drizzle with olive oil (and herbs if desired); gently toss to coat. Place in oven and roast for 2-3 hours or until the top is blackened and any juices have become thick and caramelized. Allow to cool completely (I often throw mine in the refrigerator overnight to chill), then run through the food mill, about a cup at a time. The roasted sauce can be placed in heavy ziplock bags or other plastic freezer containers – I ration mine into 6-ounce servings, which is the perfect amount to make two homemade pizzas; freeze. Makes approximately 6, 6-ounce servings but your mileage may vary depending on the size and juicy-ness of your tomatoes and the volume of other vegetables you added.
The concentrated sauce can be used as the base for traditional Bolognese, marinara or vodka spaghetti sauce. It will need to be mixed with fresh or canned diced tomatoes, cream (optional) and seasoned with additional herbs and salt and pepper to taste. I use my sauce as-is as a pizza sauce and it gets rave reviews every time. If I could just find the perfect pizza crust recipe, I could take the pizza guys out of my cell phone’s directory!
Happy cooking and canning!