Rustic Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Since my last post mentioned big bowls of pasta & garlic bread and my garden is beginning to overflow with tomatoes I believe I will share my beloved tomato sauce recipe…I like to make a huge batch and freeze in mason jars to use as needed. This is not only an Italian sauce (we use on our homemade pizza’s, calzones, pastas) but also a fabulous soup with a chunk of toasted Ciabatta bread. YUM!

 

I start by gathering as many tomatoes from my garden (or Farmer’s Market if needed). This batch had a few types of sweet cherry tomatoes, Roma, and Juliet as I find they are the most flavorful. I also use some canned tomatoes. I quarter the large ones, leave the cherry ones whole and spread on a cookie sheet. Then I cut into similar size pieces sweet onion (Vidalia or Maya) and throw on whole garlic cloves (about 8 cloves paper removed).Sprinkle all with kosher salt, cracked black pepper and drizzle with a good Olive Oil.

Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour, rotating halfway through, until the little tomatoes have burst and everything is caramelized and smells delicious!

Mush the garlic cloves with a fork and then scrape all the deliciousness into a pot.

Add:

  • 5 huge handfuls of fresh baby spinach (or 1 package of frozen spinach) this will balance the acidity of the tomatoes and give a beautiful green contrast to your sauce- and who doesn’t want to hide a serving of a vitamin packed veggies?
  • a few Bay Leaves (remember to remove theses later)
  • 2-3 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped each of: Fresh Basil, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme (or 1-2 tablespoon each dried)
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans Crushed Tomatoes (plain no added flavors/spices)
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans Diced Tomatoes (same as above)
Now for the Secret Ingredient that makes all the difference…. Parmesan rinds. I save the rinds when we finish a chunk of Parmesan (or any cheese, I also save Fontina, Romano etc.) and throw them in the freezer for sauce makin’ time. I have also seen them sold in the cheese shop at my grocery, Wegmans(if you don’t know what this is find one ASAP…I even had to tell my spell check to “add to dictionary” good grief what’s that all about?) Throw in as many rinds as you like (I do about 4).
Simmer your sauce on low heat for a few hours, stirring often so the goodness doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. You may need to add more salt, a few teaspoons of cane sugar (if the spinach and tomatoes weren’t quite as sweet this batch) and your spices. (Don’t be afraid, just smell the spices, taste your sauce and sprinkle a bit here and there to see what your preferences are).
I simmer for at least 3 hours, remove the Bay Leaves, Cheese Rinds (I am not going to lie, I definitely wait till they are cooled a bit and then gnaw any remaining cheese off….*groan* De-lic-ious…0 : )

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