Simplest Tomato Sauce with Roasted Onion, Shallots and Garlic

November 25th, 2007  |  Published in All, Tomatoes, Veritable Vegetables, Weeknight Recipes  |  3 Comments


Its been my experience that tomatoes are an all-or-nothing kind of plant. When a healthy tomato plant yields fruit, it yields a LOT of fruit, and you’re generally up to your ears in tomatoes. On the flip side, when the plant is not so healthy, the yield is almost laughably small, as I experienced this summer in my own ill-fated garden.

Its an understatement to say my tomato plant had a laughable yield. I only got four tomatoes off the whole plant (due to planting late and generally not having any idea what I was doing). My neighbor’s tomato plant, however, did splendidly, and she was havesting from July all the way through November. Maybe I’ll get it right next year.

It’s hard to believe that even halfway through November that we can still get plump, ripe, juicy tomatoes. The key here is being about as local as it gets–a few steps from the door in garden.

My neighbor, having been eating tomatoes for going on five months (a long time even for the staunchest of tomato lovers), is a little tired of eating tomatoes. Her plant doesn’t seem to care though, and keeps producing and producing and producing… (it seems to have finally slowed now that we’ve gotten the first frost). This past weekend she made the generous offer of ‘all-of-the-rest-of-the-tomatoes-if-you-want-to-pick-them’, which I gladly accepted. I filled my bowl to its brim (pictured above), and made my favorite simplest tomato sauce, along with some herb meatballs and bucatini. Ah, spaghetti and meatballs — the ultimate comfort food.

Homemade tomato sauce can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Tomato sauce takes well to a wide array of additions, and it can be fun to experiment with different themes, such as roasted vegetables, chilies, red wine, herbs, mushrooms, and much more. The following recipe is an old standby of mine–it’s absolutely simple, and it showcases two of my favorites: tomatoes and roasted alliums. Its ingredient list is so short, you might even have everything on-hand.

Simplest Tomato Sauce with Roasted Onion, Shallots and Garlic

3-4 lbs tomatoes. Feel free to mix varieties, sizes, colors, etc.
1 onion
2 shallots
1 head of garlic, left whole
2 t. Olive Oil
1.5 T. dried herbs of choice (Rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, savory, etc.)
Salt & Pepper

Fill a large bowl with ice water, and bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop the tomatoes, a few at a time, into the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and plunge into ice water. Remove tomato skins, which should now peel away easily.

Once all the tomatoes have been peeled, empty large pot of boiling water so we can reuse this pot for the tomato sauce. Place a fine strainer over cooking pot, and one by one squeeze tomatoes over the strainer so that their juices go into the pot but their seeds go into the strainer. Add squeezed tomatoes to pot. Discard seeds.

Cook tomatoes, partially covered, over low-medium heat for 1.5 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, roast the alliums (onion, shallots, garlic).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the top off the garlic head so that cloves are exposed. Drizzle with approximately 1/2 t. olive oil and rub into skin. Wrap head in an individual foil packet. Cut top and stem off the onion and shallots. Drizzle each with approximately 1/2 t. olive oil and rub into skin. Wrap onion in individual foil packet, and shallots together in another foil packet. Roast foil packets for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, and open packets to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins from onion and shallots and coarsely chop. Peel excess skin from garlic and squeeze roasted cloves out and combine with onion and shallots.

Once tomatoes have cooked for 1.5-2 hours, add onion/shallot/garlic mixture and dried herbs. Stir, and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered for at least 45 minutes. If sauce is too thin, remove cover and raise heat to bring the sauce to a boil. If sauce is too thick, add water, vegetable or chicken stock, or red wine to thin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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