I’m never, ever, ever going to judge you for using a jar sauce! You’ve got people to feed and a job and a million things on your mind and if you just need to get dinner on the table then you do it however you can.
However, if you’re also trying to get more fresh ingredients into the family diet, this roast tomato method is one I’ve developed over the years that gives you maximum flavour with minimum effort and some really fast and fresh vegetables.
Believe it or not, this can be a fast dish because you only touch it twice: once to slice everything and put it on the tray in the oven, and then a second time to blend the ingredients into a sauce.
I’ve also listed this in the Weekend Cook category because it’s also a nice thing to have quietly prepping in the background when you aren’t as rushed.
Beware recipes that claim to be fast but which are actually super-hands-on. It might be fast to complete a recipe like that when you’re in a big test kitchen with willing interns to clean up your mess as you go, but it will not be fast when you have someone needing your help with maths questions, and someone else who’s only just been allowed to run their own bath, and someone else who needs to decompress a bad day at work. That was my reality, and it’s probably yours too.
Sometimes, things you touch less but cook longer are the fastest dishes of all.
No added sugar
You’ll notice with my version you don’t need to add any sugar.
Roasting the tomatoes – either at a moderate or low temperature – brings out a rounder, richer taste that removes the need for sweeteners. You should always taste though, at the blended stage. If it’s a bit flat or tart then some stock or a glug of balsamic vinegar may be enough to fill out the flavour…but the need is pretty unlikely with roast tomatoes.
I don’t remove the fresh tomato skins or seeds because these contain pectin which helps thicken the sauce. This recipe doesn’t need any tomato paste or bottled passata. The sauce will be rich and you may be surprised how well the solid roast tomatoes create a sauce texture when you blend them.
I like to roast garlic cloves and half onions with the tomatoes, and even red capsicums if I have them (see pics) as they add even more sweetness and depth.
And the great thing about roasting tomatoes is that you ‘set and forget’. You can even leave them in a very low oven overnight, or through the day while you’re at work. And if you need to speed things up, you can use a moderate heat as soon as you’re home from work and blend them up as soon as they’re softening.
See the notes at the end of the recipe, and click the top buttons to print or save it.
This sauce goes well with pasta, and will make a fantastic addition to casseroles or even a soup base.
Kitchen kid jobs
And finally, here are some jobs I would potentially give to kids for this recipe, but you know yours best.
- Tearing the baking paper for the tray.
- Pulling garlic cloves off the bulb
- Cutting the fresh tomatoes in half (use a steak knife or safety knife if they’re young).
- Grinding some salt and pepper over the top of the roasting vegetables.
- Whooshing some oil over the top of the vegetables.
- Using the stick blender (if old enough, in your opinion).
For better-than-jar pasta sauce, with minimal effort, halve your tomatoes and stick them on a baking sheet on low, then blend up when soft.
- 1–3 cloves garlic (optional and to taste)
- 1 onion
- 1kg or so of ripe tomatoes (or whatever you’ve got)
- A glug of olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
- Optional – salt and pepper, red capsicum.
- Preheat oven to 100C for slow roast, 180C for faster.
- Slice onion and the tomatoes in half, removing the dry cap if you like (I don’t bother).
- Put them cut side down on baking tray and scatter unpeeled garlic cloves around.
- Drizzle a glug of olive oil over the top, and grind over some salt and pepper if you wish – it’s not necessary for the cooking process.
- Put tray in the oven for at least two hours and up to 12 hours on the slow roast and at least 30 min or until they feel soft when you press down at the faster temperature (180C).
- Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes.
- Using tongs or utensils, put the roasted tomatoes into the bowl or jug. Squeeze in the garlic cloves, discarding skins, and take out the soft centres of the roast onion, discarding the rest.
- Use a stick blender to reduce the mix to a smooth sauce.
- This can be served immediately or left to the side for as long as you need. You can also store premade sauce sealed in the fridge or up to four days or the freezer for a month. Enjoy!