Roasted Tomato Sauce

The local tomato season is nearly done; in many areas the tomatoes profusion has passed us and the farmers by about a month.  However, if your farm stand, garden, neighbors or local purveyor of Romas, Jersey's, Uglies, Heirlooms or other luscious Pomodoros are still abundant, here's a way to utilize them that's high on flavor and low on prep and cooking times.  Roast the tomatoes in the oven set to 425 degrees Fahrenheit in a roasting pan, along with some chopped onions and sprinkling of olive oil for a few hours.  Cool, chop or puree and either use within a week or freeze for later use.

1. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit. Clean and cut the stem ends off of 2 pounds or more of tomatoes, and if you wish, cut them in half.  Chop 1 large onion into large chunks or dice. 
2. Place the chopped tomatoes and onions into a roasting pan and toss with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Roast the tomatoes and onions until they cook down, any juices that have accumulated evaporate,  and the mixture begins to caramelize or char - roasting for about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.  The natural sugars in the tomatoes and onions will begin to develop.

4. Remove the mixture from the oven once the tomatoes have cooked down and they are charred.  Allow mixture to cool at least 1 hour before chopping or pureeing. 

5. Work in batches and place the cooled tomato/onion mixture into the work bowl of a blender or food processor.  Use a wooden spoon to press the mixture down in between pulses.

6. My little sous chef, Nate, is giving me a helping hand with the blender, getting the mixture to whiz and puree. Make sure you keep a hand on the lid, so that it and tomato puree doesn't go flying through the kitchen!
7. Puree the mixture until it is well blended and nearly smooth.  It will be thick. If using at another time, don't season the mixture until you are ready to use it for cooking.  Don't add salt, pepper, herbs or oil. Wait to taste it and add what you need when you need it!

8. The mixture will be very thick, depending on how much liquid or tomato water is in the roasting pan.  My batch was thick enough to have a spoon stand up in it.  Use within one week, or freeze and use within 3 to 4 months. Season to taste when reheating with Italian Seasonings, salt and freshly ground black pepper.  This mix works great in a lasagna, as a pasta sauce, or stirred into soups or stews.  As thick as it is, it would even make an excellent pizza sauce.


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