Roasted tomatoes and sauce

We had a break in the heat last week, and I took the chance to turn on the oven to make roasted tomatoes. I was lucky that the cool-ish spell coincided with a bowl of tomatoes that needed to be used. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, I had a bunch of tomatoes from my parents’ garden (which turned out the be the last before the extreme heat and drought took out most of their plants), a few tomatoes from my favorite produce farm and a couple of Arkansas tomatoes that I bought when we were champing at the bit to get fresh, local tomatoes.

I don’t know if the rest the country places as much importance on Arkansas tomatoes as we do here in Missouri. In years past, they were the first of the summer tomatoes, and they tasted like good summer tomatoes. And we could get them a few weeks before our local tomatoes were ready. Now I am not so sure that they either have trademarked the name “Arkansas Tomatoes” or they are now picking them green and ripening them on the way to the store. Either way, they don’t taste much better than regular out-of-season tomatoes. Maybe next year I will remember the hype and skip them. But, as I usual, I will probably be seduced by the prospect of summer tomatoes and jump the gun with Arkansas tomatoes.

Roasting is a great way to bring out the sweetness of both in-season and pushing-the-season tomatoes. I cut my tomatoes in chunks, drizzled them with a little olive oil and roasted them for half an hour. I then sautéed some garlic in olive oil, added the tomatoes and some fresh basil and simmered it a bit. In practically no time at all, with not much effort, I had beautiful roasted tomato sauce. You could also serve the roasted tomatoes on pasta as is, with just a little salt and basil, if you like. Or use them as pizza sauce. Or freeze them to use in the winter when you want a little taste of summer.

Roasted Tomatoes
From The Cook’s Life
Servings: varies

This works with any amount of tomatoes, so I am not giving amounts. Just be sure not to crowd the pan, otherwise the tomatoes will boil and steam instead of roasting.

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut tomatoes into large chunks, removing the cores, and spread on a baking sheet, leaving room between the tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and starting to brown.

Let tomatoes cool until easy to handle. Remove skins with tongs or your fingers. Use in any recipe calling for canned tomatoes, or in the following recipe.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
From The Cook’s Life
Servings: varies

Amounts are approximate. Adjust amounts to the number of tomatoes you have, as well as your tastes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
12 roasted tomatoes, approximately
1 handful fresh basil, chopped (about 12 large leaves)
¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth, optional

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and lower heat to medium low. Cook until garlic is soft. Add tomatoes and raise the heat to medium. Add basil, salt, pepper and wine, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve over pasta or use as pizza sauce.

Download the recipe here.


2 thoughts on “Roasted tomatoes and sauce

  1. Being from South Arkansas, where the best of the best tomatoes can be found, I fully understand your concern that the Arkansas tonato is not what it used to be. I have recently returned to Arkansas from Florida and have not found a single delicious tomato at any of the fresh farm markets in Little Rock. My aging aunt reminds me that not just any Arkansas tomato has that famous, fantastic flavor. They really need to be Bradley County tomatoes. “It’s all in the soil!” she says and I do not doubt it. I recall as a child going with my parents to a little town called Warren (in Bradley County of course) to buy big bushel baskets full of the heavenly red tomatoes that were enjoyed by our family and used by my mother to make the most delicious stewed tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce, soup – and relishes and condiments such as “chow-chow” that were so tasty my brother and I ate them from the jars with a spoon. Guess I will make a trip to Warren tomorrow with my fingers crossed that the extreme three digit temps have not burned up all of the plants. One year I was lucky to locate a tomato farmer who shipped me a bushel boxful of the precious reds from Warren – all the way to Naples, Florida. They were so good my husband would slip one into a restaurant to enjoy with whatever he ordered! Sarah, your roasted tomatoes look fantastic. I am roasting some just as soon as I can lay hands on tomatoes worthy of the name.

    • Thanks, Connie! I think the key to a good tomato is letting it ripen on the vine. Of course they can’t do this when they are shipping them, so they pick them green, or almost green, which messes with the vine-ripened taste. That is why we try to have at least a couple of our own plants every year. Did you get any local tomatoes?

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