It’s only August, and already I am running out of new ways to use all these tomatoes, y’all! Since the thought of canning scares me to death (botulism!) and dehydrating them are kind of a pain (bulk sundried tomatoes aren’t pricy enough to justify the effort), I decided to step up my game by making fresh tomato sauce. Use what I can and freeze the rest! Behold experiment #1: homemade pizza sauce with slow-roasted tomatoes!
Since I found so many different tomato sauce recipes online, I decided to come up with my own blend, using the Marinara Sauce from Cooking Vegan as a starting point. (You might recall that I also put that on a pizza. Everything! Everything goes on a pizza!) The fresh tomatoes in the sauce are combined cup-for-cup with slow, oven-roasted tomatoes and blended in the food processor to make a sauce that’s got layer upon layer of tasty tomato goodness. This is worlds better than the store-bought stuff.
Browsing the internets, I noticed that some people prefer removing the seeds and skins – either before the tomatoes are pulverized, or after, with a food mill or strainer – but that’s a whole lot of effort that I couldn’t bring myself to expend. Besides, I like my sauce with a little chunk. That smooth-as-silk canned stuff? Just not natural!
But anyway, if you want to strain out the little bits, you can find some handy directions here.
Homemade Pizza Sauce with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
4 cups slow-roasted tomatoes (see below)
4 cups garden-fresh tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
Spices to taste: basil, oregano, salt, pepper, brown sugar, etc.
1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low heat for about ten minutes, or until the onions are nearly translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for several more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, basil, and oregano and cook, covered on low, for about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the tomatoes are tender and juicy. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes and stir well. Cook for five more minutes on medium-low, and then remove from heat. Cover and set aside to cool.
2. Once the tomatoes have cooled to room temp, process them in the food processor, in batches if necessary. Pulse until well-blended and then sample the sauce. Add extra spices and seasonings to taste: basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc. If you prefer your sauce a bit sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of sugar.
Note: For a chunkier sauce, a) pulse for a few beats at a time, until the sauce has reached the desired consistency or b) hold some of the tomatoes back, add them once the rest of the sauce is blended, and pulse just once or twice to chop them up a bit.
3. Store in an airtight container. Use within a week, or store in the freezer for later use. This should be enough sauce to cover three to four 13″ pizzas.
Tomatoes, sliced in half (e.g., grape tomatoes) or lengthwise (e.g. Roma)
Spices to taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, vegan parmesan, etc.
Minced garlic (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 225F. Spray a cookie sheet (or two) with cooking spray.
2. Wash and dry the tomatoes. If using smaller grape- or cherry-sized tomatoes, slice them in half; for larger Roma tomatoes, cut them lengthwise down the middle. Try to pick tomatoes of similar size and make the cuts as even as possible, so that the slices all bake at the same rate. As you work, place the tomato halves on the baking sheets; arrange them so that they’re squeezed together and touching, but not overlapping.
3. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons per cookie sheet) and season to taste. Salt and pepper; minced garlic and basil; and/or vegan parmesan are all nommy combinations. If making these for use in the pizza sauce recipe below, stick with salt, basil, and minced garlic.
4. Bake at 225F for approximately 3 to 4 hours (or more if necessary). The larger the tomatoes, the longer the cook time. When done, the tomatoes should be much smaller and a bit shriveled up, but still somewhat juicy.