I have to confess that I don’t usually make my own pasta sauce. It’s actually not that hard, but the jarred stuff is so convenient. Also, there are so many more brands of tomato sauce being stocked in the grocery store these days, and many of them are worlds away from that Ragu or Prego crap. (I like Rao’s a lot, though it is on the expensive side). However, the DC farmers’ markets are still flooded with heirloom tomatoes, so I thought it would be good to take advantage of ever-shrinking season.
The ingredients for this sauce are very simple, though the process of roasting does add some time. However, I think the result was well worth the effort. I plan to make a huge batch next weekend to freeze for later. This stuff is definitely just as good as the most expensive gourmet jarred sauce, if not better. Plus, it’s going to taste amazing with some meatballs.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 280 oz can of whole plum tomatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, cut into ribbons
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (The Romans used it and chefs do too)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp ground pepper (or to taste)
- olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay fresh tomatoes cut side up on a cookie sheet. Lay the whole canned tomatoes on a second cookie sheet. Save the juice from the can for later. Cut off the top of a head of garlic and place it on the same sheet as the canned tomatoes. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. I found that the fresh tomatoes took longer to cook, so it is advisable to use two separate pans. Roast until tomatoes begin to brown on the edges and the garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes for the canned tomatoes and garlic and 50 minutes for the fresh tomatoes.
2. Place the roasted tomatoes in a large pot. Peel the skin off the garlic and add the softened cloves to the tomatoes. Add the reserved tomato juice from the can. Using a stick blender, pulse the tomatoes and garlic until the sauce achieves your desired consistency. (I like mine a little chunky.) If you don’t have a stick blender, you can do this step in a food processor or a regular blender.
3. Place the pot of sauce on the stove over medium-low heat. Bring sauce to a gentle simmer and add fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and dried herbs. Reduce heat to low and allow it to barely simmer for about an hour or more. If the sauce starts to get too thick, add some water and lower the heat. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as necessary. The flavors will meld and intensify over time. A few minutes before serving, stir in the fresh basil.
Makes enough sauce for 6-8 servings of pasta.