(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 7, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Roasted Tomato Sauce is a wonderful way to turn bushels of extra tomatoes into gourmet winter meals. If you aren't harvesting tomatoes by the bushel, just make a single small batch. The flavor may convince you to dig a new garden bed next year, just for tomatoes, just so you can make more Roasted Tomato Sauce! Thanks to BlueKat76, who first shared this recipe with me, I can never have too many tomatoes in my garden.

The History of Roasted Tomato Sauce on DG
In June of 2005, BlueKat76 shared a recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce. She doesn't know who authored her version, but similar recipes can be found on many internet sites. It was an immediate sensation with DG cooks and tomato growers! One discussion thread quickly became two and three threads as people reported how much they loved the sauce and discussed slight variations in ingredients and seasonings.

Bluekat76's Recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce
4 pounds tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1 large red onion (or 2-3 small), roughly chopped.
(OK to substitute yellow or other onions)
2 Jalepeno peppers (remove seeds for less heat)
16 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Tbs dry oregano
(or a bunch of fresh oregano & basil)

Combine ingredients in a 9x13 inch pan.

Roast at 450°F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until juices get thick.

Tomatoes will get a bit blackened and will smell wonderful.

Let cool, and run through a food mill to remove skins & seeds.

The resulting puree will be nice & thick; no need to reduce.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

dish of pasta with roasted tomato sauce garnished with basil and shredded parmesan cheeseCooking with Roasted Tomato Sauce
The intense flavor of this sauce means that a little sauce will go a long way. A cup of roasted sauce is generally enough to sauce about a pound of pasta. I like to use pasta shapes like gemmeli (twists) or farfalle (bowties) that will hold just a little sauce. Shapes like rotini (spirals) or conchiglie (shells) might give you more sauce in a bite than you'd like. For a more decadent dish, add cream until the sauce is richly pink. A little freshly grated parmesan cheese finishes the dish perfectly.

Roasted Tomato Sauce in Quantity
After my first taste of this sauce, I decided I wanted to make big batches. I switched to using my big turkey roasting pan. roasting pan filled with cut up tomatoes I
put heaps of cut tomatoes into the pan, drizzle on a good cup of olive oil, and start roasting. As they cook down, I add a few more quarts of cut up tomatoes and drizzle on more olive oil. Along the way, I add several quarts each of chopped peppers and onions, 5 or 6 heads' worth of garlic cloves, and a handful of hot peppers. Toward the end, I throw in several handfuls of fresh basil leaves. This quantity takes 5-6 hours to cook down at 450'F. Give it a stir about every half hour so more tomatoes get a chance to blacken. From a batch that starts with 40 or 50 pounds of tomatoes, I generally end up with about a gallon of thick, rich sauce.

Variations on the Theme
You can just follow the basic recipe and eat the sauce or put it up ri
big roasting pan full of cooked down and charred sauce ingredientsght after it comes out of the food mill. Or you can play around a little bit with it. I like to put the sauce into a pot on the stove and tweak the seasonings before putting it up. My husband taught me that adding a little sugar to taste (start with ½ teaspoon per quart) can help to mellow the flavor of the sauce. If you'd like to thicken the sauce a bit more, you can add some canned tomato paste without affecting the sweet fresh flavor of the sauce.

For a lovely marinara sauce, try adding some robust red Italian wine and extra basil, oregano, and thyme. For every quarter cup (4 tablespoons) of fresh minced basil that I add to my big batch of sauce, I generally add 2 tablespoons shows fairly dry skins and seeds remaining in food millof greek oregano and 1 tablespoon of thyme. If you're using dried herbs, add them by the teaspoon rather than by the tablespoon. For a zesty pizza sauce, add extra peppers and garlic to the tomatoes while they're roasting, and add extra oregano when you're finishing the sauce. I've also used Roasted Sauce as a base for a wonderful "Roasted Salsa Sauce" by adding additional diced peppers, onions, hot peppers, and lime juice to the pureed sauce.

Putting up Roasted Tomato Sauce
Because of the olive oil in the recipe, it is not generally considered safe to preserve this sauce by canning in a boiling water bath. Freezing works beautifully.
finished sauce mounding up in big serving spoonWe've used vacuum sealed bags and small freezer containers. Remember that you may only want to thaw ½ cup or 1 cup of sauce at a time. Last year I bought a pressure canner, in part so I could safely put up jars of Roasted Tomato Sauce. Although there are many options, I can personally recommend the All American Pressure Canner. Pressure canning can seem intimidating if you've never done it, but if you follow the directions that come with your canner then it will be simple and easy to do.

Whether you make a small batch for dinner or a large batch for the freezer, I hope you'll give Roasted Tomato Sauce a try. The next time somebody looks at your garden in wonder and asks, "What on earth are you going to do with all those ripe tomatoes?" you'll be able to smile smugly and say, "Oh, don't worry; I'll put them to good use!"

Thanks to Bluekat76 for letting me share this recipe with a wider DG audience. Photos in this article are mine.

Are there still more tomatoes sitting on your counter? See Mrs_Ed's article today for more delicious suggestions on what to do with Too Many Tomatoes!