by Sherelle Christensen, contributing writer
In the beginning, gardening seems like a lot of work. The planting, watering, fertilizing and endless hours of weeding finally start to pay off, and you get to harvest fresh tomatoes from your own backyard. I like to eat them sliced up with salt and pepper. We can eat plenty fresh on salads and toppings on all of our favorite dishes, but there comes a time when you just want to preserve some of that delicious home-grown taste for the colder months ahead. This simple recipe is a great option for preserving tomatoes, and it is simple enough that you don’t need fancy canning skills to put away some fresh pasta sauce for the winter months to come.
Please note that because this recipe is meant to use up extra garden tomatoes, the amounts are not exact. Try not to stress about how much of each item you need to add. I’ve made this sauce many times without an exact recipe, and it has always turned out wonderfully. It is simply a guideline for how to make a delicious sauce using what you harvest from your garden.
- ripe garden tomatoes (I like to pick mine and let them ripen for a few days on the kitchen counter.)
- onions (red, white or yellow — they are all delicious)
- garlic cloves
- fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, etc.
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- canned tomato paste
- Line a large baking dish with foil and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Remove stems from tomatoes and quarter.
- Fill baking dish with quartered tomatoes.
- Remover paper skin from onions and chop off the ends. Quarter smaller onions or chop larger onions into smaller sections. Sprinkle over tomatoes.
- Peel garlic cloves and slice in half, sprinkle over tomatoes and onions.
- Spread herbs over the top and season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other dry herbs you might like to add.
- Drizzle the entire pan with olive oil.
- Place in oven and allow to roast until the tops of the vegetables blacken.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, lift roasted vegetables from the pan into a food processor or blender, leaving the liquid in the pan. Add a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and enough tomato paste to help reach desired thickness.
- Taste your sauce and see if it needs any further seasoning. If you can resist eating it all straight from the blender with a spoon, you can use the fresh sauce right away (it’s great on pasta, veggies, and in lasagna), or you can mix in a tablespoon of lemon juice and portion the sauce into freezer bags and freeze for later use.