Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $10/day.

Let me say 2 things about this sauce:

1. It was completely awesome in every way. Seriously, I'm ready for another batch, hot oven be darned. The flavors are so much more complex and full than with a skillet sauce.
2. My older kids wouldn't touch it. Would. Not. Touch. It. No, it wasn't chunky. No, there wasn't spinach hidden within. But it was orange-ish as opposed to the dark red of the store bought tomato puree.
3. It was super easy.
4. It is an absolutely fabulous way to use up lots of tomatoes--like when you have too many to eat, but not enough to can.
5. Yes, this is more than 2 things. It's a problem I have with lists. They always end up longer than I think they will. Please tell me I am not alone in having this problem.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1-1 1/2 hours
Cost: It's practically free if you're using garden tomatoes. If you're buying them, try to find them for $1.00/lb and this would cost about $2.50 (although I do have an herb garden, so I'm not counting those fresh herbs)

2 lb Roma tomatoes (other varieties will do as well and we mixed and matched a bit, but Romas are nice for sauces because they have few seeds)
1 onion (white or yellow)
8-10 garlic cloves (sounds like a lot, but the roasting mellows them significantly)
4-6Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil (didn't have so skipped)
pinch red pepper flakes (Note: I bet if you've got an extra pepper lying around you could chop it up and roast it instead of using the red pepper flakes)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Position rack in lower third of oven.

Core tomatoes, slice lengthwise into quarters and scoop out the seeds. (Seeding them really isn't as pesky as it seems in this case and it really yields a nicer finished product. If you miss a few it's not the end of the world, but you don't want an excessively seedy finished sauce--at least we didn't.)

Peel onion and slice it or cut it into 1-inch chunks.

Peel garlic and give it a smash with the flat side of a knife if you wish.

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, dries basil and red pepper flakes in a bowl and give them a few tosses. (Of course I just put mine on the pan to toss since I am lazy.) Sprinkle with a bit more olive oil if necessary. Sprinkle generously with salt (it's going to give it just the loveliest flavor when it roasts) and pepper.

Spread vegetables evenly on a baking sheet (I used a jelly roll pan) and roast for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. (Note: You can turn up the heat a bit and rush this a little, but don't try to rush it too much; the slow roast is what gives it the nice, complex roasted vegetable flavor.)

Give them a stir a little over halfway through.

Remove from oven and let it cool for a few minutes (unless your husband needs to leave for work in, like, 20 minutes). Then put it in the blender or food processor (get all those yummy sauces off the pan and add them). Add sugar and vinegar and blend until smooth. Add the fresh herbs and pulse it for a few more seconds. (Note: If your family likes chunky sauce, reserve part of the vegetables and just put them in with the herbs and give them a few pulses.) Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.


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