As you know, I love to can tomatoes, so you think I'd be thrilled to have this ongoing harvest. But here's the dig ...
That many jars of canned tomatoes took about 50 pounds of fruit. So getting a meager 5-8 pounds from the garden just doesn't make it worth while to set up another round of canning.
So ... the challenge comes. What to do with so many ripe tomatoes? And how do I use them all up with out (1) getting sick of them by the time my next round is ripe to harvest and (2) avoid letting them get over-ripe in the process?
Luckily for me, about a month or so ago I came across a recipe on a woman's blog (who writes mostly about canning). After reading the recipe, I thought it appeared to be easily scaled to accommodate any size tomato harvest, and figured it would be the perfect solution in helping me consume all this excess produce. So I thought - why not give it a shot?
Although the recipe was originally written with the intention of it being soup, I took a guess that would work as tomato base for anything - marinara, pizza sauce, and so on. So I tried it for the first time over labor day weekend while making eggplant parmesan, and I have to say ... loved it!!
Needless to say, when I had another bountiful harvest again this weekend, I made a second batch for pasta dinner Monday night.
The roasted flavor of this sauce is just wonderful, the ingredients list is exceedingly basic, and using fresh harvested tomatoes you just can't get much healthier!! As an added bonus, this pairs fantastically with zucchini noodles (if you're so inclined).
Roasted Tomato Base
- 5-8 pounds Roma tomatoes
- One large onion
- Olive oil
1. Wash tomatoes. Remove top stem and any imperfections on skin. Slice in half, and using a spoon, remove the inner seeds. As you near the final 1/4 of your tomatoes, turn your oven on to 425 degrees.
2. Lay the tomatoes on a cookie sheet, cut side down/skin up. You can opt to slightly overlap the tomato slices in order to fit more on per sheet, but make sure that at least 1/2 of each tomato's skin is exposed to flame.
3. Drizzle tomato skins with olive oil and place in oven. You should end up with 1-2 cookie sheets of tomatoes baking at this point.
4. Peel the onion, then slice it into 1/4" thick rounds. Place on a separate cookie sheet, drizzle with oil, and place in oven. Be careful when opening the oven once the tomatoes are inside!! The excess moisture cooking out of the tomatoes sometimes creates a hot steam build up inside the oven, and can scald your face when the oven is first opened. I recommend carefully venting the oven open and standing to the side for a second, first, before looking inside.
5. Allow vegetables to roast for about an hour or so (timing isn't scientific and will vary depending on the tomato's thickness and how you stacked them on the sheet).
**Tip - if you are serving this with pasta, start your water to boil after you vegetables have been roasting for about half an hour. That gives you 15-20 minutes to bring the water to a boil, and 10 minutes or so to cook the pasta.**
Make sure the onions are further from the heat source than the tomatoes, as they will brown much more quickly. Keep a careful eye on the onions after the 30 minute mark - you may need to remove them well ahead of the tomatoes to avoid burning them. Tomatoes are done roasting when they have cooked down and skins are caramelized. Mine, when done, looked like this:
6. Remove vegetables from oven. Using tongs or similar, remove onions from cookie sheet and place them in the bottom of a blender. Then add the tomatoes (with skin still attached) on top of the onions. Be careful to leave any watery liquid from the tomatoes behind on the tray - you may dispose of it after it has cooled.
7. Once all roasted vegetables are in the blender, season lightly with salt and oregano - the roasted flavor doesn't require much for additional seasoning. Place the lid on the blender and pulse until the vegetables reduce into a smooth sauce. Be careful while blending, the sauce inside will be hot. You may need to vent the lid once or twice in between pulses to let out built up steam.
8. If you are serving over pasta, serve immediately - while the sauce is still hot. If you are thinning with stock to make tomato soup, move the sauce into a larger pot and stir in heated broth - again, serve immediately while still hot. This base also keeps fantastically well in the freezer, so don't be afraid to pack it down into smaller containers to save for future meals.