So, let’s talk about red pasta sauce. Ahh, that oft-neglected component of many Italian dishes [at least in my world]. Funny, red pasta sauce is a staple in my kitchen yet I don’t really think about it. I’m too busy thinking about the layers of cheesy, meaty goodness in lasagna or the fact that spaghetti is a speedy, brainless, and relatively healthy dinner to truly consider what the sauce is made out of and how it tastes. Most of the time, I purchase a decent store-bought jarred pasta sauce and that’s the end of the story.
Things are a-changing now. I’ve moved passed the typical “end of the story” and on into uncharted waters. A sequel, if you will.
This journey takes us into the land where pasta sauce is just veggies and herbs, with a tiny bit of seasonings and oil, but mainly just the good stuff from the ground [and the bush and the tree, I suppose]. But you get my gist, right? It’s all about the flavor and freshness of ripe August tomatoes, nutty yellow summer squash, sweet onions, crisp Carmen peppers, and mellow cloves of garlic.
Not only do the flavor and freshness of these veggies make this sauce stand out, but the cooking method does as well. Slow roasting the vegetables provides extra depth, richness, and sweetness that cooking down on the stove top cannot achieve. Plus, this relatively hands-off cooking method is a breeze! Feel free to add a pinch of sugar or extra seasonings to taste, but we found anything else to be unnecessary.
We love topping hot noodles with Roasted Tomato Sauce, but it’s equally great eaten cold with a spoon in front of an open refrigerator door… or, you know, as a bread dip. Delicious either way. I don’t think I’ll ever leave this wonderful land of veggielicious pasta sauce. Stay with me? And eat cold pasta sauce? You know you want to…
What do you eat cold in front of the refrigerator? Fess up below!
Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 5 cups roughly chopped tomatoes [I used Roma]
- 1 small yellow summer squash, chopped
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 1 Carmen pepper, halved [or substitute half of a bell pepper]
- 4 cloves garlic, papery skin removed, and cloves smashed
- olive oil
- black pepper
- dried rosemary
- fresh basil [about 4-5 leaves]
- fresh oregano [about 2-3 sprigs]
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using two baking sheets [preferably jelly roll-style pans with sides at least 1 inch deep], lay out all vegetables [tomatoes, squash, onion, pepper, and garlic] skin side down in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with pepper, salt, and rosemary. Bake for about 60 minutes or until vegetables start to blacken around the edges.
Remove to a deep bowl and add basil and oregano. Use an immersion blender to puree mixture until you reach your desired level of smoothness. Alternatively, a blender or food processor would work too but be careful with using hot food in those appliances. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.
Yield: 4 cups
Time: 70 minutes [10 minutes active]