Roasted Tomato Sauce

Making your own of anything that normally comes in a jar, can, or container makes it that much special. Jam is only really good if you make it yourself. So is almond milk, nut butters, and ice cream. It allows you to have better control over the quality and types of ingredients you eat. More importantly, it gives you confidence in the kitchen and serious street-cred amongst your friends and family. If you can make something like jam or tomato sauce, you can do anything.

Most of these kitchen adventures, though, tend to be complicated requiring multiple steps, equipment, and time. This recipe is not. 

Something as humble as tomato sauce can become an utter decadence, a treat that will transform that pushover Tuesday night dinner into the best meal of the week when you make it yourself. Not only does it taste better, you made it! This is you in a sauce.

This recipe is particularly easy to make. Tomatoes, red bell peppers, onion, and garlic are tossed into a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and thyme. These are then roasted until everything collapses into a sweet, caramelized version of themselves. The tomatoes are then puréed until smooth and served as you would any tomato sauce. That’s it. No soaking, no boiling, no fuzzing. All the rich umami flavors develop by themselves within the oven. The meat of the vegetables softens slowly, transforming their juices into sweet carriers of flavors. These flavors are deep and rich, almost opposite to the fresh flavors they offer when raw, boiled, or sautéed.  The tomato adds a hit of acidity that is well complimented by the onion and garlic’s bite. The red bell pepper adds sweetness and earthiness. Fresh and roasted thyme adds a great herby-freshness that works well against the richness of the other ingredients.

Use this recipe as a base. If you are feeling adventurous, add cumin, black pepper, or paprika. Rosemary can be used instead of thyme while roasting. Parsley or cilantro could be added at the end. There is room to play and a million combinations to test.

This sauce can be used as you do any tomato sauce. I make pasta all the time, so this is where I use it, but you could also cook eggs, bake lasagna, or as a sauce for roasted vegetables such as eggplant or cauliflower. Either way, this tomato sauce is a great addition to your basic recipe repertoire: simple, healthy, and tasty!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Makes about 3 cups

Cook time 50 minutes

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 generous pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut tomatoes and onions into quarters, then peel garlic cloves and place in a parchment paper lines baking sheet. Remove stem and seeds from red bell pepper. Alice in half and place in baking sheet with other vegetables. Add one of the two springs of thyme, one tablespoon of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Using clean hands toss everything together until evenly coated. Place in oven and roast for 35-40 minutes. Vegetables should be soft, but not burnt. Remove from oven. Let cool for five to ten minutes. Transfer in batches into food processor and pulse until smooth. Once completely puréed, taste for seasoning. Add more slat if needed and remaining thyme leaves. Serve with pasta, roasted vegetables, or eggs.