This recipe is adapted from several I found in The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook and The Earthbound Cook but simplifies the techniques they use. My version yields the benefits of cooking the tomatoes in a two-step-process (i.e., roasting and simmering) just as some of the cookbook versions do, but avoids the tedious steps the originals use to remove the tomato skins. Instead of using a food mill or pre-peeling the tomatoes in a separate (and annoying) process, I simply slip the skins off after roasting and before simmering on the stovetop. (See my recipe for Roasted tomato sauce – Take II for an even easier method.) A single carrot adds sweetness at the simmering stage, likely eliminating the need for any sugar, but that depends on your taste.
This sauce is delicious as is over pasta, especially with some grated cheese, but it also makes a great foundation for a meat sauce. I estimate 1 pound of ground meat (e.g., beef, buffalo, turkey, chicken, pork) for each quart of sauce. The first time I made this I split the difference and served it plain, but with chunks of Italian sausage on top.
Time: 2 ½ hrs or more (total): 35 minutes hands-on, 2 hrs or more cooking time
Yield: 3 qts
10 lbs fresh tomatoes (mostly saucing ones, e.g., San Marzano, Roma)
½ c olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
5 large sprigs of fresh basil, stems removed
2t dried rosemary
2t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomato paste
1 carrot, halved lengthwise
Salt & pepper
Pinch of sugar (optional)
1. Wash 10 lbs fresh tomatoes, cut out the stem, halve and put in large roasting pan. Add olive oil, garlic, basil, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Roast 1 hour at 400 degrees.
2. Do something else for 1 hour: e.g., clean up the kitchen, read a book, cook something else. (I prepared two baked goods.) Remove roasting pan from the oven when tomatoes have roasted (i.e., skins are split and tomatoes look deflated).
3. Chop onions and then sauté them in a large, non-reactive saucepan on medium-high heat until translucent.
4. While the onions are cooking, return to the roasting pan. Discard the bay leaves, then carefully pull off and discard the tomatoes skins using kitchen tongs. Leave tomatoes in the roasting pan.
5. When the skin removal task is mostly complete – don’t be compulsive about it, you’ll have a second chance to remove skins from the pot while simmering – and the onions are soft, pour the tomatoes and all the liquid from the roasting pan into the saucepan.
6. Add 1 can of tomato paste to the saucepan. Use a potato masher to break tomatoes down into small chunks and mix in the tomato paste at the same time.
7. Add carrot and simmer 1 hour or so, until desired consistency is reached. Timing will vary depending on the water content of the variety of tomatoes used.
8. When complete, discard carrot and adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt (and sugar) if desired.
9. Eat immediately or cool to enjoy later. Refrigerate up to several days or freeze up to 6 months.
*For best quality results when freezing, cool to room temperature on the counter and then refrigerate. Freeze once chilled completely in the fridge. You can freeze this sauce in freezer bags, plastic storage containers or specially marked wide-mouth pint canning jars, but not quart ones. Note that the tomato will stain the plastic storage options.