It’s been a busy week over here!! We finally welcomed baby Casey to the family on Wednesday – a much anticipated arrival that has been taking up ALL the spotlight and we are totally okay with that! The kiddos are super excited about having a baby brother and have been helping me feed him, change his clothes and racing to see who can get the baby a clean diaper first. Still no takers on helping me with the dirty diapers yet….a mommy can dream…
Before Casey made his debut, I was busy prepping freezer meals and easy dinner stashes for the days after the daddy goes back to work. Between having two older kiddos, a baby, a husband, and now one super hungry mama I was cooking lots of things that would make everyone happy, like this really quick and easy homemade tomato sauce.
Now, you may be wondering why in the world I’m making tomato sauce from scratch when I can just buy convenient jars of already prepared tomato sauce at my favorite store and call it done. Well, it’s because of sugar. Did you know that almost every single tomato sauce manufacturer puts sugar in their processed tomato sauce? Sure, jarred tomato sauce tastes great but I’m a big proponent of less sugar in my home and in our family’s food, so I make homemade tomato sauce. It is just as delicious as store bought, I can hide some extra veggies in there for the kiddos, and it’s guilt-free!
Tomato sauce can be made from fresh or canned tomatoes, and usually I make big batches of homemade sauce at the end of the summer when the tomatoes are so ripe and delicious and falling off the vines that I don’t need to add anything extra to make a perfect sauce. But because last years tomato crop was less than stellar, AND I have no canned sauce on my shelf, I used one of my tricks for turning winter tomatoes into delicious little tomato candies that can be eaten as is or blended into sauce – all without the addition of sugar.
So here’s the trick: Take a pile of roma tomatoes and slice them in half. Set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle a good glug of extra virgin olive oil over the top (use the good stuff – like this one – it makes a difference here) and sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, some dried thyme and some dried oregano. Pop the tray in to the oven set at 300 degrees, and slowly roast these little flavor bombs until they are wrinkled and have shrunk in size by at least half – about 1 1/2 hours. Let them cool if storing, or eat them hot out of the oven!!!
These little roasted/candied tomatoes are great in salads, served with your favorite cheese, piled onto a sandwich (grilled cheese with tomatoes anyone?), and you can blend them into my quick and easy homemade tomato sauce recipe which makes the sauce taste nice and sweet without any addition of sugar. Healthy and delicious – It’s a win-win!!
quick and easy homemade tomato sauce
makes about 3 quarts of sauce
extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/2 cup dry red wine, or vegetable stock or water
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
1 small bunch of fresh basil, leaves removed and stems discarded
6 cups of tomatoes (canned, fresh, roasted, or a mix of all three – if using fresh, roughly chop any large tomatoes before adding)
4 cups of vegetable stock or water
Place a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot, then add the garlic, carrots, celery, onion and fennel. Stir to coat the vegetables in the oil and then let the vegetables cook slowly until softened and lightly browned, about seven minutes. Deglaze the pot with the red wine (vegetable stock or water), using a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the thyme, oregano and basil to the pot, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally while simmering.
After 30 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Using an immersion or stand blender, puree the sauce to the thickness and consistency that you prefer – adding salt and black pepper to taste.
Use the sauce right away or fully cool the sauce before storing in the fridge (for up to five days) or in the freezer (for up to four months).
My notes: This recipe is yours to adjust as you desire – for example, if you don’t like fennel, omit it; if you don’t drink alcohol, add vegetable broth instead, etc. I always use this sauce as a disguise to add more veggies to my kids diet – adding baby spinach or shredded kale at the same time as carrots and celery – and they have never said a word as everything gets pureed together at the end.
slow roasted tomatoes
1 pound roma tomatoes, washed and sliced in half lengthwise
extra virgin olive oil (one of my favorites right here)
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle a good glug of extra virgin olive oil over the top and sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, some dried thyme and some dried oregano.
Pop the tray in to the oven, and slowly roast these little flavor bombs until they are wrinkled and have shrunk in size by at least half – about 1 1/2 hours. Let them cool completely if storing or eat them hot out of the oven!!
my notes: You can store these roasted tomatoes in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to five days. Or freeze then for up to four months. You can also use any type of fresh tomatoes you like – cherry tomatoes will roast very quickly so keep an eye on them, and full sized tomatoes will take about twice to three times as long to roast.