Roasted Tomato Sauce

I got this from one of my favorite gardening websites. They posted it as a way to use up tons of homegrown tomatoes. I freeze the sauce and use it all year. See my notes below on what I've learned after making it many times. This makes about 3 cups.

Ingredients

4 lbs tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1 large or 2-3 small red onions (or yellow or white), roughly chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, split in two and seeded.
16 cloves garlic (about two heads) Optional - see my note 1 below
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbls dry oregano (or a bunch of fresh oregano and basil) See my note 2 below

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 450°.Combine ingredients in a large roasting pan, preferably large enough so tomatoes lie in a single layer. Roast for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until tomatoes are a bit blackened.

2) Let cool and puree through a food mill to remove the skin and seeds. (Note: you MUST use a food mill. Food mills separate the skin and seeds from the pulp. Do NOT try to puree the mix using a blender or food processor; if you attempt to do so, the blackened skin will be pureed into the sauce and the result will be absolutely horrible.)

3) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can or freeze as desired.

NOTES:

This is a really terrific recipe. Here are some comments:

1) Regarding the garlic: this recipe calls for roasting the ingredients, which include whole garlic cloves, in a very hot oven for a long time. This results in "roasted garlic" (duh). The flavor of roasted garlic is not at all like the normal garlic flavor you associate with garlic bread, for example. In fact it's very unique and may not appeal to everyone. At any rate, after making this recipe multiple times I now omit the garlic entirely. Instead, when I USE this sauce I first mince (or garlic-press) four or five cloves of garlic, sautee them lightly and quickly in a little olive oil, then add the sauce and simmer for a short time. You should do this even if you DO include the garlic listed in the original recipe prior to roasting. Spaghetti sauce NEEDS that regular garlic flavor and you won't get it from the roasted garlic in this recipe.

2) Similarly, I don't use basil when making this recipe. Instead (like the garlic) when I USE the sauce I will add chopped fresh basil as the very final last step. Basil is better either raw or with VERY minimal cooking. (Fresh basil is one of my favorite things. I've got around 20 basil plants in my garden. The saddest day of the year is the first hard freeze of autumn when all my outdoor basil plants die. Basil doesn't tolerate freeze at ALL).

3) The original recipe said to use a 9x12 inch pan, I find it is best to use a pan that lets the tomatoes lie in a single layer. I use my turkey roaster pan.

4) The recipe says to roast for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The general idea is to roast until much of the liquid has evaporated and tomato skins have patches of black. For me, 1-1/2 hours usually work but it depends on how ripe the tomatoes are.

5) This recipe requires a moderately unique piece of equipment, a "food mill". It's pretty much a requirement. For some reason many people seem to associate food mills exclusively with making baby food, which is pretty weird. Anyway the one I have is from All-Clad, it seems to work real well. All-Clad products are pretty expensive but they make some of the most outstanding cookware available.

6) Most tomato sauce recipes recommend using roma tomatoes (aka italian or plum tomatoes). It isn't necessary for this recipe. As I said above, the goal is to roast the tomatoes until all the water has evaporated, so the sauce ends up being pretty thick and rich even with regular "globe" style tomatoes.

7) The original recipe calls for two jalapenos. I use one, sometimes one and a half depending on size and where they come from (the jalapenos I grow in my garden tend to be less hot). Two was too spicy. I like spicy food fine but it's not appropriate for every application; tomato sauce (like in Italian cooking) is best with just a moderate amount of heat. As an aside, men who boast about how much they like super hot spicy food (it's usually men) have a serious problem with their "manhood".

8) This recipe often comes out rather sweet. Not sure if the onions are to blame; I've tried both red and yellow onions, the red onions seem to work best. It may simply be the tomatoes, I like to leave tomatoes on the vine until they're extremely ripe. That and the roasting process undoubtedly contributes to the sweetness.

9) This makes pretty much exactly three cups of fairly thick and flavorful sauce, it should be used somewhat sparingly.

This is really a terrific recipe, it makes a truly delicious sauce that's restaurant-quality. What makes it particularly great is that it provides an outstanding way to use up tons of tomatoes (for those years when the tomatoes in your garden are going crazy; in the past three weeks I've picked over 110 lbs of tomatoes from only 24 plants). You can freeze the sauce or can it, although I've never tried that (I'm not a canner). I used to waste a lot of tomatoes because I couldn't use them all or give them away, but thanks to this recipe I have a superb use for every tomato I grow. In fact I've actually INCREASED the number of tomato plants I plant just specifically for this recipe.