Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

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September can be the time of tomato burnout, at least if you have your own garden or are friends with someone who gardens. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but fresh tomatoes at every meal do pall after awhile. We don’t personally have that problem this year, but we were inundated last year, especially with cherry tomatoes. I love the bounty of fruit you get from a cherry tomato plant, in July and August. By September I am usually faced with bowl after bowl of cherry tomatoes that no one is really all that interested in anymore.

The typical answer to too many tomatoes is to make sauce. This can be problematic with cherry tomatoes. No one is going to peel those babies and they sometimes have very thick skins. Last year I tried an experiment to deal with them in the quickest way possible. It was about a hundred degrees (I’m not exaggerating) and I wanted to get in and out of the kitchen in the shortest amount of time.

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Now, this does involve turning the oven on in the summer heat, but it isn’t on for long and the results make it worth it in my book. Long story short – roast those luscious nuggets of summer sunshine until they are browned and shriveled, which takes very little time since they are so small. Let them cool a little and then chuck them into the food processor. A quick whirl and they break down into sauce that is thickened by the pureed skins.

I like to freeze the sauce flat in ziplock bags, like I freeze my zucchini, to save freezer space. It also makes for easy and fast thawing later. You can thaw in the fridge overnight or put the bag in hot water. It also works to cut the bag off the frozen block of sauce and put it right in a pan to thaw over low heat.

Print or download the recipe.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
From The Cook’s Life
Yield varies

Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake 20 minutes, or until softened and browning in spots. You might hear some of the tomatoes burst as they are cooking. There will be a fair amount of liquid on the pan from burst tomatoes and it might be caramelizing in spots. That is fine.

Let the tomatoes cool, on the pan, for about 30 minutes. The scrape, pour or otherwise transfer the tomatoes and all their juices to a food processor or blender. Process the tomatoes into a sauce. Scrape down the sides once and process again.

Pour the sauce into ziplock bags. Be sure to label them with the contents and date before you fill them or you’ll be writing on squishy bags. I like to use quart bags and fill them with about two cups of sauce. It is easiest to place the bag in a straight-sided glass or glass measuring cup before filling. Place the filled bags flat on a plate or a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen solid, you can store the bags upright like books or stack them flat.

When ready to use, thaw the bags overnight in the fridge or float in a bowl of hot water for about half an hour. You can also cut the bag off the frozen sauce and thaw it right in your cooking pot. Use the sauce as the base of any soup or stew, or spice it up for pizza or pasta.

The Fruits of Summer

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This year’s tomato harvest started with a trickle of red fruit – one cherry tomato every few days. And that was if I could beat the deer to them. I can’t tell you how many tomatoes I picked that had one dainty bite out of the side. We have a small family of a doe and her two fawns that have adopted our neighborhood. They are so comfortable that they relax in the shade of the trees in the afternoons. Bucolic suburbs, anyone?

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We haven’t seen the deer as much lately. I guess our neighbors have tastier offerings in their yards. Fine with me. We finally have had a couple of substantial tomato harvests. I actually had to get a bowl the other day, instead of holding the red bounty in my hands. In fact, I had to get two bowls and they were both overflowing. I spent a little time gloating over the piles of red lusciousness before taking them inside.

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As often is the case we didn’t deal with the harvest right away. I was stumped over the best way to use our many, many cherry tomatoes. They are nuggets of summer tomato tastiness, but they do have a high ratio of skins and seeds to flesh, which makes them slightly problematic in sauce.

After two days of sliced tomatoes and quick sautéed pasta sauces, and after I noticed the first fruit fly, I had to do something. We had more tomatoes ripening every day. I settled on roasting as the most efficient method to deal with the bowls of red guilt that were covering my countertops.

I usually remove the skins after roasting, but I couldn’t see taking the time to peel all of the melting globs of cherry tomatoes. And then I would lose the caramelized, roasted skins, with all of their rich flavor. I decided to chuck the whole lot into the food processor, peels and all. It pureed into a thick, bright red sauce with dark flecks of toasted peels. I am already dreaming of pulling those bags of summer sunshine out of the freezer on a cold, dark December day.

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What is your favorite way to use vine-ripened, picked at the peak of freshness, summer tomatoes?