Roasted Tomato Sauce {with Vegetables}

Roasted Tomato Sauce

When I’ve got tomatoes coming out of my ears and they are in buckets and bowls all over my kitchen, people will invariably ask when they see them, “what are you going to do with all those tomatoes?” Um, let’s see: Addictive Tomato Chutney, Dried Tomatoes, Salsa, pizza/seasoned sauce, Tomato & Feta Salad, Zucchini, Corn & Tomato Saute…well, the list could go on and on.

The most important way I preserve tomatoes for our family, though, is to make this incredible roasted tomato sauce that I freeze and use the rest of the tomato-less year. And by incredible, I mean out-of-this-world flavor – next to Addictive Tomato Chutney it’s probably everyone’s favorite recipe. Having this sauce in our freezer is like having a stash of organic, so good-for-you-it’ll-make-your-eyes-roll convenience food ready whenever you need it.

Its also helps that it’s super easy, takes care of a lot of tomatoes at once, and even uses other vegetables that we happen to be harvesting if I want to add them. Sometimes I get a batch going while I’m making dinner, then puree it and freeze it after. Did I mention easy?

oiling pans

How to Make and Preserve Roasted Tomato Sauce

1. You’ll want to start with however many pans will fit in your oven if you’ve got a lot of tomatoes. For me, that is one large roaster and two 13×9 pans. Of course you can just do one, but since I’ve usually have a ton, I’ve never actually used only one pan. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into each pan.

seeding tomato

2. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the cores. Plum/paste tomatoes will yield a thick and meaty sauce, but this roasted sauce is usually thick anyway and I like the flavor of all my different tomatoes, especially heirlooms, so I just use any ripe tomatoes I have. If I’ve got paste tomatoes ripe, I’ll try to do 1/2 paste and 1/2 slicing in each pan.

2b. If you want to use tomatoes with more juice, like heirlooms, give a little squeeze to the tomato after cutting it in half. A lot of the seeds come out and you’ll be left with the meat of the tomato. This is completely optional, of course, and there are times I’m in a hurry and can’t be bothered and the sauce is a bit thinner.

tomatoes in pan

3. Place each tomato cut side down into some of the oil and slide it to the edge of the pan. Repeat with all the tomatoes until the pans are full with a single layer of tomatoes and the oil has been distributed evenly. Scatter chopped onions over the pans, tucking them into the crevices. I use about 1/2 an onion for each pan.

adding vegetables

4. Shhh…this is the part just between you and me. I add other vegetables to the sauce and my kids don’t know they’re eating zucchini, peppers, carrots, or whatever. Actually, nobody does – and what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

The truth is, I wasn’t trying to be healthy when I started this, I was just trying to use up extra zucchini!

adding vinegar and herbs

5. The ingredient I feel is the signature of this recipe? Balsamic vinegar. Add 2-4 tablespoons to each pan to really enhance the vegetables, and resulting sauce, when roasted.

6. Finish off the layers with garlic and any herbs you’d like. Peel and slice or mince garlic, scattering and pushing into the crevices. Then add dry or fresh herbs, or a combination. I usually have basil growing and will use that fresh, then add dried thyme and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

roasted vegetables

7. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, switching the pans halfway through (if you’re using more than one) from top rack to bottom. At this point, most of the skins are browned and wrinkled and I find it easy to just pull them off with tongs. I don’t bother with the ones that won’t come off easy, just the ones that pull off like the one pictured – usually thicker-skinned paste tomatoes.

Again, this is optional. The skins can be left on before pureeing and if they bother you, you can push the sauce through a sieve to remove them. Or you can just eat them. Usually I won’t do another step and I find the sieve takes out some things I want like herbs, so plucking most of the skins is the easiest way to go for me.

processing roasted tomato sauce

8. Let the roasted vegetables cool for a few minutes and then use a large spoon to transfer the vegetables (and liquid) into a blender. Try to get even amounts of vegetables and liquid in each blender batch, otherwise you’ll end up with containers of really thick sauce and one container of super liquidy sauce. Each 13×9 pan is typically  enough for one blender, but since I make three pans, I add the contents of the two smaller pans to the largest, mix it evenly and then remove 1/3 at a time to blend.

9. Pour into freezer containers, leaving an inch or two for expansion. The one large and two smaller pans I usually give me about 3 quarts. Update: I now use quart glass canning jars to freeze all our tomato sauce. I make sure to leave 2-inches for expansion and haven’t had a problem with breaking while in the freezer, though I’ve lost a jar while defrosting.

labeled freezer container

10. Date and label each container so you will know what you’ve got when you’re looking for dinner in February.

And if you’re like our family, you are going to be SO happy to have taken the time to make this sauce when you’re eating that meal using garden produce long after the harvest has passed – that’s convenient, tasty, and healthy.

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Roasted Tomato Sauce {with optional vegetables}

Put in a large roasting pan:

  • 3 Tb. olive oil
  • about 6 lbs. cored, cut in half tomatoes (1/2 plum, 1/2 slicing) in a single layer, cut side down
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • any vegetable on hand: zucchini, peppers, carrots, celery (optional)
  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 4 Tb. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. each dried herbs of choice: thyme, oregano, basil OR 1 Tb fresh, chopped
  • about 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  1. Roast for 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  2. Remove skins with tongs, as desired.
  3. Process briefly in a blender or processor for a chunky sauce, or more for a smooth sauce.
  4. Use right away, or pour into quart-size freezer containers, label and freeze.

Makes about 2 quarts

 

Find more make ahead recipes at Life as Mom’s Ultimate Recipe Swap.

-Jami

Comments

  1. Jami,

    I just read you canning instructions and wondered if you ever canned this sauce?

    Jenelle

  2. Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says:

    Hi,Jenelle-

    I don’t can this because I like to throw in whatever I have from the garden, with no thought to acid/low-acid ratios that are needed for canned foods. I also make this to use up the imperfect tomatoes (a little bottom rot, hole in them, deep scratches) that shouldn’t be used for canning.

    I’m pretty careful with canning and only use recipes from sources that I know are safe (in accordance with the USDA). I have a couple of recipes for sauce that I use when I want to can, mostly the tomato sauce recipe from the Ball Blue Book.

    Thanks for asking!

  3. That looks delicious! I love to be sneaky with the veggies. I usually puree frozen spinach and add it to our spaghetti sauce.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do you let the sauce completely cool to room temp before putting in the freezer? Thanks :o)

  5. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Anonymous- You’re supposed to, I think, for efficient freezing…but I usually just let it cool a bit and put it in hot still. I guess I’m a rebel that way. ;-)

  6. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Frogdancer- I hope you like it- it really does make the daunting task of processing go a bit easier!

  7. This looks fantastic. It’s Spring here and I’ve just potted up about 30 heirloom tomato plants and I was dreading the Summer processing experience. In Australia we don’t can… everyone freezes things instead, so this recipe is perfect. I also like how it uses up all the other things I’m planting too.
    Thanks so much!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just found your website today. Frugal Living NW posted about it. I made this today. SO good! Thanks for the recipe and I’m excited to explore everything on here!

  9. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says:

    Isn’t it amazing how good something so simple can be? I’m happy to eat it weekly if we needed to. :-) So cool hearing that FNW linked to me- love their site- thanks for the heads up!

  10. I do this too, but freeze it flat in baggies (lay them flat on a cookie sheet until frozen) for easier storage in the freezer – and it defrosts quicker when the surface area is smaller.

  11. Catherine says:

    Roasted my first two pans this morning. Love it. It is simplicity itself and delicious. The next two pans I’m going to just chop and freeze, so when the mood strikes I can have “lumpy” sauce. So glad I found your web page. Also freezing my green beans without blanching them. I love easy!

    • Woot!! I could eat that tomato sauce with a spoon – actually, I do, I just call it tomato soup, then, ha!

    • Hi: I was just start making my tomatoe sauce, too many to peel and can. So I decide to go on line and I am so lucky to find this fantastic way to make sauce. I also grow basil so it is perfect!
      Thanks so much. Storing the sauce in

  12. I love this recipe! Just made some more today and reviewed it on my blog –

    http://kbeeps.blogspot.com/2013/09/recipe-review-roasted-vegetable-pasta.html

  13. A friend shared this recipe with me 3 years ago and it’s now an annual tradition in our home. Both of my kids (10 and 8) helped chop vegetables today and we made our batches of roasted marinara. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It’s a great way to use extra veggies from our CSA box and the flavor is outstanding ;-)

  14. Darlene Curtis says:

    It smells so amazing too! Thank you for this recipe. So easy and perfect for one or two trays of tomatoes.

  15. Heading back to this recipe for a second time (in a short time span). Love this! I, too, now freeze using jars. I actually reuse jars from peanut butter and pasta sauce (and whatever else). Gone are the days that I throw them in the recycle bin.

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