I’m not making any claims that this is the best tomato sauce of all time. If you’re looking for the best tomato sauce of all time, you may want to consult Scott Conant, Mario Batali, or some other famed Italian chef. This isn’t one of those tomato sauces.
However, I can claim that this is a good tomato sauce recipe. A really good tomato sauce recipe – one that I invented myself, with a little help and inspiration from others. At the end of the day, it’s a basic tomato sauce made with the last of the ripe tomatoes from my garden.
All that to say, I’m not going to go on and on about tomato sauce as if I’m an expert on the subject. I’m not. But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to making (and using) tomato sauce. First of all, I figured out a way to make tomatoes peel themselves. You see, I hate (hate!) blanching, peeling and de-seeding tomatoes. It is a tedious and obnoxious task. So, then, I figured out that if you quickly roast the tomatoes underneath your broiler, the skins pretty much just come right off. I simply halve the tomatoes, sqeeze out the seeds, and then broil them for 8-10 minutes (or until the skins blacken and loosen from the tomato flesh). It’s a win-win situation: the tomatoes get a bit of smokiness from the ‘fire roasting’ and the skins come off easily. No blanching required!
Secondly – and this may sound painfully obvious – use high quality or heirloom tomatoes when making tomato sauce. Your sauce will taste as good as the tomatoes you put in it. Those sad, bruised, unripened Roma tomatoes at the grocery store? Don’t use those. It’s as simple as that.
And lastly, I want to share with you my new favorite way to enjoy tomato sauce: baked with rounds of goat cheese, and enjoyed with a fresh baguette. And yes, of course, I eat a lot of tomato sauce with pasta. But I made a giant batch of this sauce and was looking to use it in a number of different ways. And let me tell you, baking goat cheese in tomato sauce is dangerously delicious. I made it one evening while Nich was at work and I may have devoured it al by myself. Oops?
So, then, the actual recipe that I’m posting is for my fire roasted tomato sauce. But my helpful suggestion is to bake some goat cheese in that sauce. Just make sure that someone else is around to ensure you don’t gobble it all down by yourself. :)
FIRE ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE
(Inspired from recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Vie La Table)
5lbs of tomatoes
1 small carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup red wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper, to taste
First, halve the tomatoes (from top to bottom) and cut off stems. De-seed the tomatoes, by either squeezing them over a bowl (or trash can) or by using a spoon or your fingers to remove seeds. I find that fingers work best!
Turn on your broiler. Place halved tomatoes, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet (be sure to use a rimmed baking sheet, as there will be a lot of tomato juice!). Place baking sheet under the broiler and roast the tomatoes until the skins have blackened (about 8-10 minutes). Repeat this process until all tomatoes have been roasted. Set tomatoes aside and allow to cool. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove their skins and pour off any juices. The skins should come off very easily (the roasting does the work for you).
In a dutch oven or large pot, heat butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown (10-15 minutes). Deglaze the pan with red wine, and add in the bay leaf, rosemary and oregano sprigs. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, and then add in the roasted tomatoes, dried basil, and salt & pepper. Allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or more. The longer you let this sauce simmer, the better it will be. When you feel the sauce is ready, remove from heat. After 30 (or more) minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Blend with an immersion blender (or food processor) until smooth. Serve over pasta (or bake with goat cheese!). The sauce will keep in the fridge for a week (or more).