There’s something about the lingering fall-time breeze: crisp leaves mixed with fresh apples and a smoldering nighttime fire. I begin to crave some of my favorite comfort foods I’ve shelved for the spring and summer months: a slow cooked Chili, rich red sauce, and a hearty Chicken Soup. Personally, I think some meals are just more special when you ‘save’ them for their respective season. Of course, they’re always delicious, but with the familiar chill in the air settling in, a hot bowl of chili feels as cozy and familiar as your favorite well-worn, oversized sweatshirt.
As summer comes to a close, so, too, does our vegetable garden. Fortunately, we have had an abundance of sweet, Cherry tomatoes the greater part of the last two months. The Roma tomatoes have followed suit very recently, to the point we are left with more tomatoes than we know what to do with – I can’t give them away fast enough! Pining for Eggplant Parmesan, I thought making homemade sauce would complement that perfectly. Just, I had never made sauce before, from scratch anyway. Nevertheless, with a few serendipitous hours of solitude over the weekend, I got to work in the kitchen.
After sending my husband to forage for the last of the ripened Romas, I diced and seasoned (and remembered to photograph: that’s definitely been the hardest part!). I ended up with two trays full of quartered Romas (25 medium tomatoes used in the making of this batch – do not ask me how many pounds that is!). I drizzled olive oil, and topped with salt, pepper, and torn basil leaves (from our very fruitful porch basil plants). About halfway through their cooking, I rotated the trays and added a pinch of sugar atop the sizzling tomatoes. Rotated the trays once more, this time topping with parsley springs and half of a diced white onion. (Sadly, I thought I had fresh garlic on hand, only to discover I, in fact, did not..otherwise I would have been roasting the garlic all the while also). Cooking time was just a little over two hours, but I would say a three hour process total. Again, I had no real idea what I was doing, but that is somewhat how I cook – my track record is that it generally ends in success! This time was no exception!
I let them cool slightly before they went into the food processor. The trays scraped quite cleanly, giving the flavor of the sauce a really complex, slightly charred flavor.
The end result exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I am ready to share it with you – after just one go! It can easily be modified to take into account your specific preferences, but this is a great basic recipe to launch your creative style. But I seriously cannot wait to smother my Eggplant Parm in this sauce, it will be divine!
25 medium Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 medium white onion
1T fresh parsley sprigs
2T Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and quarter the tomatoes, and place on two cookie sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, and top with salt, pepper, and the torn basil leaves. Roast in the oven for an hour. Rotate trays, and top with sugar. Return to oven for another 45 minutes. Again rotate the trays, this time topping with the diced onion and parsley sprigs. Up the oven temperature to 400 degrees for the final half hour of roasting. Total cook time 2 hours and 15 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before scraping the trays and adding everything to the food processor, including the Parmesan cheese. I found the consistency to be a thick and smooth – if you prefer a thinner sauce, thin slowly with water.
This filled one full 12oz jelly jar and half of a second – plenty of sauce for topping my Eggplant Parmesan!
Update: The following night I used the extra sauce to top some Zucchini Ricotta ‘meatballs’ – recipe coming soon!