Thanks go to my foodie friend Bonita, she of the fabulous Bon Eats blog, for telling me about this wonderful sauce from Cuizoo. I'd been searching in vain for a tomato sauce recipe that started with fresh Romas as opposed to canned ones -- who knew it would be so difficult? -- and I'm glad I went with this one, even though the making of it was slightly ridiculous. Not the author's fault, but mine, entirely.
You see, I knew full well that the sauce needed five, six hours to cook down. And yet, I let the weekend slip away, while my beautiful Romas sat untouched on the kitchen counter. Suddenly it was 8pm on Sunday and I was at risk of letting some or all of the tomatoes go bad. So I went for it, even though I knew the sauce likely wouldn't go in the oven until 9pm (meaning it'd be finished cooking at, you guessed it, 3am).
I stayed up as late as I could muster for a school night -- about midnight -- dutifully taking out the roasting pan once an hour and stirring up the fragrant mixture. Then I retired, setting my alarm for 3am to take out the finished sauce. And when 3am came, I did exactly that. Bleary-eyed and still half asleep I poured the sauce into a big metal bowl, and tossed it in the fridge. And there it stayed for the rest of the day until I had time to reheat it, puree it, and jar it.
I had a taste after pureeing and before jarring and I have to say this sauce is well worth the time. I won't say effort because really this recipe is as easy as it gets. No blanching and peeling the tomatoes, which is a huge plus. One thing to be aware of is that because the tomatoes cook down so much you might not get as much sauce as you'd think when you're starting out. I managed four 500mL jars, or about eight cups. But a little goes a long way and you can extend its life by mixing it with other ingredients. For instance tonight I mixed some roasted eggplant into a few spoonfuls of the sauce, thinning it out with some pasta water. I'd say I used four tablespoons of it, max.
Also, my friend Bonita said I might want to cut back on the honey as the sauce is on the sweet side. I actually cut the amount in half, to 1/8 cup, and I still found it sweet. Depending on how you like it you might want to cut it back even further. The tomatoes become quite concentrated in flavour as they cook down, and the balsamic vinegar adds sugar too. Use your own judgement, and know that you can always add additional sugar or honey at the end should you wish.
Slow Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce with Basil
1-2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 sweet peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
8-10 pounds of Roma tomatoes, cored and halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
3 t sea salt
1-2 t freshly ground pepper
2 t dried oregano
1 t fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
3-4 T red wine
Additional salt, pepper, and sugar/honey to taste
2 big handfuls of basil, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a very large roasting pan, combine the onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, fennel, and bay leaves.
2. Roast tomato mixture in preheated oven for 5-6 hours, stirring every hour or so.
3. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Remove bay leaves. Puree with immersion blender or in traditional blender (cool mixutre a little more if using a traditional blender and be very careful to keep lid off slightly and covered with a towel so the steam can escape).
4. Add red wine and taste for seasoning – adding more salt or pepper if needed. And if your tomatoes are on the acidic side, you might need to add more honey or sugar.
5. Stir in chopped basil and serve as is or put in containers to freeze.
Makes about 3 or 4 large jars ( or 10-12 cups of sauce)