Being that this is Summer Tomato and that tomatoes are at their peak flavor right now, I’m going to teach you how to make a swoon-worthy Simple Roasted Tomato Marinara sauce that you can savor now and stow-away for winter.
Roasting the tomatoes prior to pureeing them concentrates the flavor and results in a perfectly balanced tomato sauce that, unlike most store-bought marinaras, doesn’t need to be loaded with sugar.
For the richest flavor, we highly recommend getting the tomatoes from the farmers market, or better yet, your own backyard. Most of the tomatoes sold in grocery stores have been bred for shelf-life and picked under-ripe, resulting in an unremarkable and less nourishing tomato.
To preserve tomatoes for winter, you need not get out the canning equipment. This sauce freezes beautifully and can be easily stored in re-sealable freezer bags (I highly recommend making a double batch). If you want to freeze your sauce in glass jars, just make sure the jar is straight-sided and that you leave room for the contents to expand when frozen.
Come December when the days are shorter and colder, you’ll want to hug me when you remember that the essence of summer is hiding in your freezer.
Yield: about 4 cups
- 5 pounds ripe tomatoes, halved
- 1 whole garlic bulb, top trimmed off
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with a Silpat (silicone mat) and arrange the tomatoes on top, cut side up, or place the tomatoes in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with half of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
Drizzle a little of the olive oil on top of the whole garlic bulb (left unpeeled) and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Wrap the bulb tightly in foil and place it on the baking sheet with the tomatoes.
Place the baking sheets on the center and upper racks of the oven or the roasting pan in the center of the oven. Roast the garlic bulb for 45 minutes and the tomatoes for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes have reduced and the edges begin to blacken (if your tomatoes are really juicy this may take longer).
Allow the tomatoes to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then transfer them to a high-speed blender or food processor. Unwrap the garlic bulb and once it is cool enough to handle squeeze the individual cloves into the blender or food processor. Add the basil, oregano, if using, remaining olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes (if you want your sauce a little spicy), and black pepper.
Process the tomato mixture on high speed until smooth. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and pepper if needed. If your tomatoes were not sweet enough and your sauce tastes a little acidic, add 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar (or regular sugar) to enhance the flavor. Alternatively, you can thicken the sauce and concentrate the flavor by simmering it for 15 to 20 minutes on the stovetop.
Allow the sauce to cool then transfer it to pint-size freezer safe containers or re-sealable food storage bags. Seal the containers tightly then store the sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 9 months.
Serve on top of homemade pizza, pasta, baked fish or chicken, and more.
Elyse Kopecky is a whole foods chef currently co-authoring a cookbook for runners, Run Fast Eat Slow, with Olympic marathoner and longtime friend, Shalane Flanagan. After 10 years working for Nike and EA Sports, Elyse decided to pursue her passion for talking and writing about food. She went to NYC to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute and has taken cooking classes throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Sign-up for sneak peeks of Shalane and Elyse’s book at runfasteatslow.com or follow along @ElyseKopecky.