I love a good, basic marinara type sauce. And I’ve tried a few different methods to make it at home. Many recipes are done on the stove top, but I never was able to get the rich flavor I wanted that way. Then I happened to see the oven roasted method on some cooking show (can’t remember which one, now), and I’ve never gone back.
One thing that may give you pause here is that I have written the recipe using (horrors) canned tomatoes. There’s a reason (actually a few) for that. Just stay with me here.
Now, I have done this sauce with fresh tomatoes (and onions, and garlic and herbs) from my garden, and it can be wonderful that way. However, the tomatoes have to be absolutely dead ripe, otherwise the flavor will be nowhere near its potential.
So, unless it’s summer and you have access to really fresh, really ripe tomatoes, it just won’t be the same. Store bought fresh tomatoes tend to be (especially in winter), a bit underripe (so they can be shipped) and the greenhouse types that the stores tend to carry really don’t have a huge amount of flavor.
Not so with canned Roma tomatoes, especially the San Marzano variety. They are very ripe and have a good, meaty texture. So this is one instance where a canned product can be better than the fresh version. And, using canned makes it a perfect option for winter, when it’s a great time to have the oven going for several hours.
The slow oven roasting does something important – it carmelizes the tomatoes, which really develops and concentrates the flavors. I really think it’s a lot better result than a stove top sauce. Yes, it takes longer, but you can put this in the oven, forget it and then do other things for a while.
I like to make a batch of this, use half, and freeze the rest for another meal. It’s great on pasta, in lasagna, and on pizza.
Give it a try – I think you’ll be pleased with the result.
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 2 28 oz cans roma tomatos, preferably San Marzano (do not drain)
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Spray a 9×13 baking pan (preferably glass) with cooking spray. Spread tomatoes (undrained) in pan.
- Spread onions and garlic over the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, basil, thyme and oregano over the top.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top, getting a good coating on the herbs so they won't burn.
- Roast in a 300° oven for 3 hours until the tomatoes are carmelized.
- Pour into a saucepan and blend with a stick blender until smooth. (Or blend in a blender or food processor).
- If sauce is not as thick as you like, simmer until reduced to your liking, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.