I’ve been up to my elbows in tomatoes lately. Saturday was the perfect gardening day – sunny, not too hot, and not too cool. So I found myself searching my jungle of a garden for all the bright red juicy tomatoes I could find. I had it in mind to share some with friends, make some salsa, and make some roasted tomato sauce for freezing. You may be wondering why anyone would go to all that trouble. I could simply purchase canned tomatoes and sauce during the winter months. It would be easier, and canned tomatoes are still healthy enough. The answer, for me, is in the flavor. If you’ve never experienced a tomato sauce made from freshly picked tomatoes, you’re missing something good. Season it any way you like with garlic, basil, thyme, and maybe a little sea salt. Or perhaps with cumin, cilantro, and oregano. However you decide to season it, there’s an unmistakable taste of fresh. Fresh what? Well, just fresh . . . clean, real tomato flavor. And freezing your own sauce locks in some of that fresh from the garden flavor. Tomatoes are full of nutrients too – high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lycopene. They’re low in calories, fat, and sodium. They’re definitely a healthy choice. If you’ve ever made sauce from fresh tomatoes you may have visions of cleaning and cooking them over a hot stove, and then forcing them through a sieve to remove all the skins and seeds. It takes a long time, at least for me it did. And I always felt guilty throwing away all those skins too. Sure, I got the pulp, but I eat the skin on a raw tomato – why not cooked? I’m happy to say that roasting makes it easy to prepare and freeze your own fresh from the garden tomato sauce – or fresh from the farmer’s market if that is the case. I love everything about this method. There’s very little waste. You end up with a great tasting, healthy product, and it’s easy. Anyone can do this. Anyone. The process is similar to my roasted cherry tomato sauce, but with different tomatoes and without the added seasonings.
Here it is:
1. Gather enough Roma or paste tomatoes to cover at least two jelly roll pans after the tomatoes are halved.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line your pans with foil (for easy clean-up) and drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on the foil.
3. Wash all the tomatoes, remove stems, and slice in half length-wise. Place them on the foil-lined pans, cut-side up. Sprinkle a little more olive oil over the tomatoes and scatter a dash of kosher salt on the tomatoes if desired.
4. Place pan(s) in pre-heated oven. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, checking them after 40 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft and somewhat shrunk. Be careful not to roast too long or you’ll make tomato paste or dried tomatoes.
5. Remove pans from oven and cool slightly.
6. Slide the roasted tomatoes into a food processor and blend together, in batches, till smooth or of desired consistency. If you want to use it immediately, return to a large pot and season with your herbs and spices of choice. Continue reading for freezing directions.
7. Ladle into clean, pint-sized freezer boxes, leaving 1/2″ head space (that’s the space between the top of the sauce and the rim of the box).
8. Cover with a clean lid. Label the contents, date it, and place in your freezer.
There you have it. Fresh homemade tomato sauce that you can use as a pasta sauce, for soups, enchiladas, and much more. If you’ve enjoyed this post won’t you consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter below?