I’m a firm believer in making tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, primarily because I can’t stand the tinny taste of canned tomatoes. Unfortunately, I’m never organized enough to make giant batches of tomato sauce during the summer when tomatoes are in-season – I’d rather have a caprese salad! – which means I’m stuck trying to find decent tomatoes in the fall and winter. Most of the large off-season tomatoes in the market tend to have a pretty mealy texture and lackluster flavor; accordingly, the resulting sauce tends to be a far cry from what’s desired.
Cue the cherry tomato: they’re available year-round and tend to have good texture and flavor. Roasting them intensifies the flavor but still leaves a clean tomato taste. There’s 5 ingredients in this recipe, but the sky is the limit here. I like to keep the basic tomato sauce on-hand in my freezer and doctor it up for various applications: if I’m planning a pasta diner, I’ll saute onions and garlic with some oregano, then add the defrosted sauce and some red wine and let it simmer away to make a fantastic marinara. I’ll turn it into a salsa by adding some garlic, lime, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion. Let me know what unique applications you come up with in the comments below!
- 2 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 6 large basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mise en place, and read this recipe all the way through.
- Toss the tomatoes in the olive oil and transfer to a sheet pan.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of each) and wiggle the pan to evenly distribute the seasoning.
- Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to caramelize and have released their juices. If they look like they're shriveling up, it's time to take them out.
- Let cool slightly, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor and add the basil. Pulse 3-5 times for a coarse sauce, 5-10 times for a smoother one.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer.