One of my favorite dinners growing up was spaghetti with my mom’s “spaghetti” sauce. This was garden-fresh, marinara sauce with onions, garlic, herbs and some Parmesan cheese and it was AMAZING!! We would often add some ground beef or Italian sausage to the sauce, but I think it was the fact that she grew the tomatoes and preserved them right off the vine that made it a family favorite. I have taken on the tradition, but am not always as successful with enough tomatoes from my garden and you may or may not be growing them. If this is the case, check out your local farmers market for any additional tomatoes you might need, they are EVERYWHERE this time of year. Preserve the season friends, you will be so grateful this winter that you still have a taste of summer on your shelves (or in your freezer). For this recipe, I prefer to use roma tomatoes (also know as Italian plum tomatoes) and here’s why….they are thick-walled, meaty, bright red tomatoes that have less juice than other varieties…making them ideal for sauces. I have tweaked mom’s recipe just a bit over the years and hope you will love this roasted tomato marinara and with fresh basil and Parmesan as much as we do! To begin, the peel must come off the tomatoes and here is how I do that…
Blanching tomatoes in boiling, hot water followed by a soak in an ice bath definitely gets the job done, but it requires a lot of ice and I find it to be a huge mess. I tried roasting the tomatoes at a very high heat in hopes of both intensifying that already amazing flavor and decreasing clean-up. Guess what?? It worked. This is done by first washing the tomatoes and then roasting them in a single layer on a sheet pan under the broiler for 10-15 minutes per side. The skins will char up in this process, split and then once cool enough to handle will slip right off the flesh. You will end up with the same results if you prefer the blanching way of doing things. Once the tomatoes are roasted and peeled the rest of the sauce is EASY!!!
Once the tomatoes are roasted and chopped, the onion and garlic are chopped, it is time for all ingredients to go into the pot. The chopping can be a bit time consuming and because of that, make a big batch to last a while. I 4x this recipe with the goal of pasta with this summer-fresh, marinara sauce at least once a month for the fall, winter and spring. This sauce can be frozen instead of canning, so worth your time and effort my friends.
Let’s talk about canning for minute…how many of you are canning? I’m sure someone in your family has done this and you have some memories of shelves with jars in the basement somewhere… ♥♥ Canning is an easy way to preserve the season with all kinds of produce. Of course you will need jars which you can pick up at any big-box store or you may be lucky enough to find at a garage sale or second hand store. The pot for canning itself is cheap and can be found in all of the previous listed places or on Amazon for $20. Basically all you do is ladle your sauce (jam, pickles, applesauce, fruit) into sterile jars and place them in the boiling water for 10-20 minutes, let them cool and seal up and you are done. I have to say there is something so gratifying about having “those shelves” in the basement full of all the season’s peak produce. Give it a try!!
3 T evoo
¾ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups tomatoes (about 5 lbs), roasted, peeled and roughly chopped
12 oz tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried oregano
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 T sugar (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup packed fresh basil
Roast the tomatoes by cleaning them and placing them under the broiler for 20-30 minutes, rotating the tomatoes half way through. When cool enough to handle, skins should slip right off and then roughly chop the tomatoes.
Saute onion and garlic in evoo until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to fully combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 2 hours or until semi-thick. Ladle sauce into sterile jars and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. If freezing, place in quart bags when room temp and stack in the freezer. Enjoy!!
Makes 5-6 pints