Some nights the most comforting dinner to make is one simple, made with just a handful of fresh ingredients and prepared with a minimum of effort. After all, most of my summer efforts have gone into growing things, though it's hard to tell from all the weeds that have overrun the garden. My plants continue to amaze me with what they produce despite the weed pressure.
This year I planted some Juliet tomato seedlings purchased from the Botanical Garden's annual spring plant sale. They have proven to be massively prolific, with our two plants producing over seven pounds of tomatoes so far and still going strong. I've also had several Sungold cherry tomatoes that sprouted from the spot our chickens' coop occupied last summer, when we fed them lots of tomato leftovers.
At first, the rainy weather this summer was a blessing, but lately the wet weather has not been so great for gardens. My squash and pumpkin plants have suffered and all but died off from bacterial wilt and powdery mildew. My tomato fruits are splitting and cracking due to the heavy and inconsistent moisture levels. Luckily, this sauce recipe is perfect for using tomatoes that are not perfect enough to be eaten raw. Just cutting off any nasty parts is all that is necessary.
What with all the abundance of tomatoes, albeit some split ones, I was hoping to find a simple pasta sauce recipe that didn't require anything crazy like removing skins or straining out seeds and didn't have any strange or complex ingredients.
Let me also say that I do not at all care for the standard marinara sauce that comes in jars in grocery stores and I had no wish to recreate it. To me it tastes heavy and sad and almost always gives me horrendous heartburn. It bears no relation to true, fresh marinara which I love dearly. I think the best marinara sauce I've ever had is served at Marché, where it occasionally graces the top of a stunning savory crepe filled with something miraculous like ricotta and mushrooms.
I began my recipe using this recipe as a baseline. It does take awhile for the recipe to come together, but very little of that time is active cooking time. This recipe is nothing fancy. It is straight up tomatoes without any frills and I love it.
Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce
2 pounds of grape, cherry, or Roma tomatoes (I've used Juliet and Sungold cherry both with good results)
One head of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoons each of basil and oregano
1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
Wash, dry, and cut tomatoes in half. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil and salt. Cut the top off the head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil. Roast tomatoes and garlic at 375°F for about an hour, until the tomatoes are soft and darkened.
Squeeze out garlic from the cloves and dump tomatoes into a food processor or blender. Add in basil, oregano, or any other herbs you'd like. Add in a tablespoon of sugar. Puree until smooth.
Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with the pasta of your choice and fresh veggies on the side.
*If you are feeling feisty, add a few splashes of heavy cream to turn this into a tomato cream sauce, which is what I did the last time I made this sauce.