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A friend recently confided to her Facebook network that she seemed to be the only one of a group of women she knew who wasn't making her own tomato sauce. She was crowd-sourcing to catch up and requesting recipes. I quickly assured her that making your own tomato sauce is probably one of the easiest garden projects ever - and all you really need is tomatoes.
One of the best things about homemade sauce, in my humble opinion, is its simplicity. It can serve as a canvas for a variety of dishes later on, which is why I prefer to leave out the extras and make simple sauce that can be spiced up later depending on how you're using it. Making pizza? Keep it as is and sprinkle herbs on top. Making pasta? Saute some onions and garlic or add some grilled veggies or sausage. You get the idea.
I have also come to LOVE roasting our tomatoes instead of just simmering them on the stove top. OK, so this requires a little olive oil (one extra ingredient) but blackening the tomatoes just a bit in a very hot oven, under the broiler, or in our case out in the wood fired oven, gives the sauce a deep roasted flavor that is incredibly delicious. The best part is that this recipe is even easier than doing it on the stove top because roasting the tomatoes helps to eliminates a lot of the liquids in a portion of the time it would take simmering slowing on your stove top.
Another thing that makes this recipe even easier than the traditional method is that I do not care about removing skins or seeds or liquids when I'm chopping up the tomatoes. I used to always use my food mill to strain the tomatoes after boiling them for a bit, but now I simply throw the tray full of tomatoes into the blender, seeds and all, and it comes out just as delicious without all that labor of grinding, not to mention washing, the food mill.
Super Simple Easy Peasy Roasted Tomato Sauce
Make as much or as little as you want. For reference, I find that 30 plum tomatoes or 12-15 larger tomatoes make about 4-5 pints, depending on how thick you want it.
1 pile of tomatoes
2-3 glugs of olive oil
A bit of salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 450.
Chop the tomatoes coarsely (you should end up with 1-2 inch cubes, give or take). Throw them onto a large baking sheet or two (depending on how many tomatoes you have). Put the baking sheet into the oven for about 15-20 minutes (if you have wood-fired oven it only takes about 10). Check your tomatoes a few times. You want to end up with them bubbly and a bit browned on top. If you aren't achieving the browning you want, consider turning on the broiler for 1-2 minutes at the end.
Remove from the oven and scoop up the beautifully roasted tomato chunks with a slotted spoon (leaving any thin liquids that have drained out on the baking sheet) and put them into the blender (I usually do two batches per baking sheet - don't overwhelm your blender). Blend for about 20-30 seconds till you have a nice thick sauce.
If your sauce is still too thin for your liking, feel free to put it in a pot on the stove to simmer.
Now you can use your sauce, freeze it (leaving 1 inch head space in your container), or can it according to a basic canning recipe (which will usually entail adding 1 T lemon juice and 1/2 t salt for each pint jar).