The tomato express keeps on rolling through my kitchen. I was brave enough to turn on the oven today after feeling a nice breeze wafting through my windows. And I had a giant tub of gorgeous roma tomatoes just begging to be used. And basil and bell peppers. Also, at the farmer's market I saw a tub of the cutest baby shallots and for $2 that I couldn't resist buying.
So, I'm about to give you a recipe for the Easiest. Pasta Sauce. EVER. Seriously. You will thank me later because you will never again need to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store. And the secret to this sauce is roasting. Roasting is simply throwing something in a hot oven and letting it sit for awhile. Even the biggest kitchen dolt can handle this, I swear. I learned about the wonders of roasted tomatoes in the Jones kitchen for our annual labor day roasted salsa weekend. This is also where I learned how to remove tomato skins!
So with roasting, the peppers get a nice char on them, the garlic and shallots become soft and deep-flavored, and the tomatoes get so sweet, you'll think the final sauce has got some other fancy secret ingredients. The best part about this recipe is that you can honestly eliminate any of the ingredients you don't like - as long as you keep the tomatoes - and it still tastes great. Even just plain roasted tomatoes will be awesome on your pasta or pizza. Also great about this sauce - the thick consistency. As anyone who's tried to make a fresh stovetop pasta sauce knows, tomatoes are FULL of water and make for a runny sauce. Not so with roasting. The sauce is thick and rich and oh so delicious!
The only thing that makes it a little tricky is removing the tomato skins but you can certainly skip that step if you want to - I have before and it doesn't change the awesome flavor of the sauce. To remove tomato skins, slice an X into the top and drop them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl of cool water and the skins will peel right off.
Roasted Tomato Sauce (for pasta or pizza)
A lot of tomatoes, cut in half or fourths - skins removed (optional)
2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, seeds removed and cut into big chunks
A big handful of baby shallots (or a cut up onion), skins removed
1 whole bulb of garlic, remove skins from all the cloves
1 tsp salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh basil, optional
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put tomatoes in a big roasting pan (I used a pyrex cake pan). In another pan, put your garlic, shallots, and bell peppers. Cover all the veggies with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes. Throw in the hot oven for 40 minutes or until everything is soft and sort of charred on the edges. Mash up everything with a fork or potato masher (or an immersion blender would be perfect here) and add fresh basil. I threw it into my food processor for a couple quick pulses. VOILA! Pasta or pizza sauce!
Roasted Tomato Soup
Make sauce as described above
Add vegetable or chicken stock to desired consistency
Heat on stovetop until hot
Optional: reduce some cream in another pot until thick and add to soup for extra richness
Optional: add other veggies or roasted mushrooms to make the soup healthier and chunkier
Enjoy with a grilled cheese sandwich and glass of prosecco or champagne!