Freshly roasted tomato sauce is so much better than jarred or canned sauce because you control the salt, sugar, and herbs. I make extra in the summer and freeze it in small batches for homemade sauce all year round. This is best when fresh tomatoes are in season!*Alternate recipes: Purée the chopped tomatoes, onions, and peeled garlic together, then add the rest of the herbs and simmer until reduced. Omit the herbs and use plain roasted tomato sauce in other recipes, like mousaka, or stuffed peppers.
Prep Time10 minutesmins
Cook Time1 hourhr15 minutesmins
Pureeing/food mill will take additional time15 minutesmins
2tbspbasil*Fresh, roughly chopped, or 1 -2 tsp dried. TIP:Go easy on the seasoning if you plan to use this for recipes other than speghetti, like mousaka.
fresh or dried herbsI recommend a few basil leaves, a small sprig of rosemary, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano. Remove stemmed herbs after roasting. Or a tsp Italian seasoning blend, or to taste. *Or omit herbs for use in recipes with tomato sauce.
⅛tspbaking sodaOptional (use to reduce the acidity of the sauce.)
Preheat your oven or grill to 400-450°F, and add the olive oil, diced onions, and water (or optional red wine) to your roasting pan.
Trim stem ends off of tomatoes, cut in half, and add to the pan. No need to cut up small tomatoes.
Nestle in the fresh herbs and toss in the garlic cloves
Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is cooked through and garlic cloves are soft, between 1 -1½ hours while scraping the browned bits down from the sides of the pan.
Using a spoon or tongs, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves, discard the peels, and stir it into the tomatoes.
Taste then sprinkle and stir in a small pinch, of ⅛-¼ tsp baking soda, stirring until it stops fizzing/bubbling. Taste again. The sauce should taste a little less acidic, and a bit sweeter. *Do not add over ½ tsp total baking soda total, it will ruin the sauce and add sodium.
Remove from heat. When it has cooled down some, remove the herb stems. Either run the sauce through your food mill or press it through a mesh strainer to remove the skins and seeds. Food mills are a pain to use, but they do a fantastic job of removing seeds and skins.*Alternatively, you could use tongs to remove and discard the skins and break up any large tomatoes.*You could also puree it in batches in a blender or food processor once it's cooled.
If you are serving it right away, return the strained or pureed sauce to the pan and heat it, or simmer it until it has reached your desired thickness.
Add pepper (to taste) and, if desired, add a small pinch of sugar.
*Nutritional value does not include red wine or sugar. Also will vary depending on the size and quantity of tomatoes.*Alternate Recipe: Puree fresh tomatoes, onions, and peeled garlic, roast or simmer with herbs until reduced and flavorful.The sauce freezes well for several months. I use it all fall, winter, and spring!