The tomato bounty is overflowing everywhere, prompting an urge to preserve their juicy perfection. I’ve used a food mill and made jarred tomatoes in the past, but found it to be a ton of work when good, canned Italian tomatoes are so readily available. Making a hearty tomato sauce with a combination of fresh and deeply roasted tomatoes is a different story, however. Now that’s worth the work.




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Rustic Tomato Sauce

A thick tomato sauce, simply bursting with flavour. Perfect over pasta all by itself, or with added vegetables, and as the base for meat and fish dishes. Yum!!

  • Total Time: 390


  • 20 pounds plum tomatoes (about 80 tomatoes)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, finely diced
  • 8 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • kosher salt
  • 20 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • cheesecloth and string to tie up the thyme, oregano, bay leaves and peppercorn
  • 3 handfuls fresh basil leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 250º F or 225ºF Convection. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Slice half the tomatoes in half lengthwise through the stem. Arrange them on the baking sheets cut side up. Drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 4-6 hours or until they completely soften and collapse.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  4. With the tip of a paring knife, make a small “x” on the bottom (not the stem end) of each tomato. Working in batches, add about a dozen tomatoes at a time to the boiling water and allow them to simmer for about 20 seconds, or until the skin begins to peel away from the tomato. Transfer them to the ice water. They will cool in a few seconds and the skins will slip off easily. Use this method until all the remaining tomatoes have been peeled.
  5. Slice each peeled tomato in half lengthwise and cut out the cores. This is a messy job, but persevere until all the tomatoes are cored.
  6. Heat a generous dollop of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the onions and saute gently until transparent. Add the carrots and garlic and continue to cook until they are soft and fragrant.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the cheesecloth bag of herbs. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for a good 4 hours, occasionally stirring and crushing down the tomatoes until the sauce reaches a thick consistency. When it’s done, remove the cheesecloth bag of herbs and discard. Add the fresh basil and stir thoroughly. Set the sauce aside and let it cool down.
  8. When the roasted tomatoes are done, add them to the sauce. Blend the ingredients using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender.
  9. You’ll have a ton of sauce, so use what you can in the coming days and freeze the rest in containers for quick weekday meals or more elaborate weekend preparations.
  • Author: Helen Kain
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 360

recipe for rustic tomato sauce