If you are like me and enjoy homemade tomato sauce year-round, this recipe is for you. It’s a great way to use up any lingering tomatoes at the end of the season. If the season has already finished, you can still manage a decent sauce with your supermarket variety.
The key to developing the flavor is to slow-roast the tomatoes to coax out and concentrate their flavor — and don’t hold back on the seasoning. If decent plum tomatoes are nowhere to be found, you can make the sauce with the ubiquitous grape tomatoes readily found year-round in most shops.
This sauce gets an extra boost of flavor from a roasted red bell pepper, which adds smoky sweetness and a pleasing burst of color. Crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper add further dimension to the sauce with a nice kick. Be sure to taste the sauce for seasoning, then let it rest for a few moments to allow the flavors to meld before tasting again. Don’t be bashful when it comes to the salt, and a spoonful of sugar will add any summer sweetness you may miss.
You will be pleased with the results: This no-nonsense, faux summer sauce is a bright and fresh condiment to splash on pasta, smear on pizza, or layer into baked dishes at any time of year. It can also be used as a sauce for meatballs or even as a base for a soup.
Note that if you substitute grape tomatoes for the plum tomatoes, you will not be able to remove their skins, which will yield a chunkier sauce. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to four days.
Roasted Tomato Pepper Sauce
Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups
- 2 pounds ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, quartered
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of sugar (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tomatoes and pepper with oil and lightly season with salt. Arrange on a rimmed baking pan, cut sides down. Roast until the vegetables soften, begin to shrivel, and turn golden at the edges, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch, then pull away the skins. Coarsely chop.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent without coloring, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and red bell pepper and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to meld the flavors.
3. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to blend to your desired consistency. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to your taste, the black pepper and sugar if desired.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.