Roasted tomato-garlic sauce (~1.5 cups)


Last weekend, Bryan's family visited us here in Chapel Hill, and his grandparents generously presented us with a portion of their end-of-the-Pennsylvania-summer tomato bounty. After a day and a half of living in don't-even-think-summer-is-over-yet North Carolina, the tomatoes started to over-ripen, so I had to figure out something to do with them -- and quick. Luckily, I remembered I had recently bookmarked a recipe from The Kitchn for slow-roasted tomato sauce. After incorporating some suggestions from the comment section, I came up with the recipe that follows.

Click here for a printable version.

You will need:

  • 2 lbs tomatoes 
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled (The mason jar trick really does work!)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil
  • dried oregano and rosemary (opt.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with non-stick foil, or spritz it with cooking spray.
  2. Core (Watch a simple how-to video here, although you don't really need the fancy knife) and quarter the tomatoes. If any of the garlic cloves are really plump, cut them in half; otherwise, leave them whole. Spread the tomatoes and garlic out in the baking pan.
  3. Drizzle the tomatoes with a teaspoon or two of the oil. Cut the butter into small pieces, and spread them out over the tomatoes. Finally, sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Bake the tomatoes, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, or until the tomatoes and garlic are soft.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut or tear a handful of basil leaves into pieces, and sprinkle the basil over the cooked tomatoes. Throw in a dash of oregano and rosemary if you wish. If you want the sauce chunky (as in the first photo), you can either stop here or break up the tomatoes and garlic with a potato masher. If you want a smooth sauce, whirl it all up in a food processor.

The length of roasting time really depends on how soft or crispy you want the tomatoes. They were soft and juicy and the garlic cloves were "smushable" just after two hours, but I let them in for another forty or so minutes so the tomatoes could get a bit crisp on the edges.

I love the fact that I didn't have to peel the tomatoes before roasting them. I was also impressed by the color and texture of this sauce. It was absolutely beautiful. Bryan normally isn't a fan of sweet pasta sauces, but he loved this one. He asked me twice if I added any sweetener. That's the beauty of roasting: It brings out the natural sweetness of fresh ingredients without adding any chemicals or even extra calories.

This sauce also freezes beautifully. I love to buy a bunch of "ugly" tomatoes at the market ($1.50 a pound! Yay!) to make a double batch of sauce, and then freeze some of it to enjoy during the winter months. It's a nice reminder of warmer weather!

It's amazing how a few patient hours can turn this:


Into this: