Easy, delicious Tomato Sauce. Roast ’em!

Have a glut of homegrown tomatoes you’re trying to get rid of? THIS is what to do with those extra tomatoes: slow roast ’em.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I’ve discovered many, many, many, many things about myself over the years. Things like my weird love of the word many.

But the most important thing I’ve learned about myself is that I will always take seconds. If I make dinner, I will get up for seconds. If I go out for dinner to a friend’s or relative’s house I will get up for seconds.

It doesn’t matter how side splittingly full I am after the first plate, I want more.  My stomach could be so stretched out from food that I’m screaming in pain and I would still fart my way over to the casserole and take another helping.

I’m fun like that.

Once I understood this interesting fact about myself, I conspired to trick myself. It was kindda hard. I’m clever, but  on the other hand … so am I.

I came up with a plan a couple of years ago and I’ve fooled myself with it ever since. Think this whole fooling myself thing is dumb? How many of you out there change the time on your bedside clock and yet every single morning you wake up too stupid to know what time it really is.

So what I do (knowing I will NO MATTER WHAT take a second serving of food) is make my first serving smaller. Yeah. It was that simple. Instead of my regular end of the day lumberjack sized serving, I take a little less. So when I get my second serving, I’m really only eating the amount of food I would normally eat (not necessarily *should* eat).

I’m a profound overeater at dinner. More than once the neighbours have found me rolling around on the front lawn with a fork in one hand and a bottle of Gaviscon in the other crying incoherently about a tumour in my stomach which is really 17 meatballs.

Did somebody say meatballs? I have a great sauce for those!

This summer I swore I wasn’t going to waste a single vegetable I grew. That didn’t come true. I wasted all kinds. It’s almost impossible to use every single thing you grow, or even give it away. You go up to the garden and a watermelon you thought wouldn’t be ripe for a few days got ripe overnight and rotten within a few days. Tomatoes are bitten by bacteria riddled raccoon monsters or a cucumber sits on the kitchen counter with good intentions of turning it into something. Which you do. You turn it into a rotting mess.

So when all of my 15 tomato plants started to produce ripe tomatoes at the exact same time I knew I had to formulate a plan or forever think of myself as the tomato waster.

heirloom tomatoes in a zinc metal tray.


Last year I roasted all of my extra tomatoes and froze them. Which was great. They were delicious. But you still had to make them into a bit of a sauce once you took them out of the freezer. Boil them down a bit, add some liquid, some more seasoning … that sort of thing.

So this year I went another route. I roasted my tomatoes but I added a few more things to the roasting pan and added one more step.

This is really easy so feel free to use only a portion of your brain to read this post.

I forgot to mention to drizzle the bottom of the pan and the top of the tomatoes with olive oil. A pretty good glug.

Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

A delicious way to use up the glut of garden tomatoes.

This isn't a recipe that requires strict measurements. As long as you follow the technique you'll end up with delicious sauce.


  • 10 or so tomatoes (quartered or halved)*
  • 1 onion (peeled and chopped into quarters)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves whole garlic (do not peel)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 hot pepper halved, or 1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.**
  2. Add everything to a sheet pan and douse with some olive oil. Mix everything up so it's all coated nicely and put the pan in the oven.
  3. Roast for 3 hours (checking on them and stirring every hour or so).
  4. When the ingredients look roasted and dark and caramelized in some spots you can take the mixture out of the oven.
  5. Remove the bay leaf then once everything is cool enough to handle, put it in a blender and blend it up to whatever consistency you like.
  6. Freeze leftovers.


* Adding cherry tomatoes if you have access to them will sweeten your sauce beautifully!

** Your roasting temperature might be different. Some ovens run hotter or cooler than others. Check your tomatoes and if after 1.5 hours they aren't showing any signs of roasting at all you can turn your oven up (or down if needed) in 25 degree increments.

Just throw everything on the pan.   The only thing you really have to remember is only having a single layer on the pan, and allowing space in between the ingredients.  This will stop your tomatoes from steaming instead of roasting.

One pan like this will get you around 3 servings of sauce.


Chopped tomatoes, onions and other ingredients for roasted tomato sauce on a well worn baking sheet.


Roast everything in the oven at a lowish temperature, (around 300F) for a few hours.  You just have to keep checking on them.  You only need to stir them 2 or three times to make sure they’re evenly roasted.

Roasted tomato sauce ingredients, caramelized and toasted, just pulled from the oven.


Once all the ingredients are roasted and your kitchen smells like you really know what you’re doing, pull the tomatoes out and let them cool a bit.  Remove the bay leaf.  If you don’t like a lot of heat remove one or both of the peppers.

Now you have 2 choices.  

Use the roasted tomatoes on your pasta as is, which is rustic and delicious.  Or blend them into more of a sauce.

To make them into a sauce, put everything else in your blender and blend until you like the consistency.

I did one batch completely blended so there was no trace of tomato skins or seeds, and another batch I left more rough, with bits of tomatoes and skin visible.


Roasted tomato sauce in a black bowl on a natural cotton dish towel.

Then I spooned serving sizes onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and froze them. Once they’re frozen you can just pop them off the waxed paper and put them in a freezer bag or tupperware and return them to the freezer.

I ended up pulling one out right away because I wanted to make chicken parmesan.I always want to make chicken parmesan, but I don’t because I can never be bothered to make a whole batch of sauce for the 3 tablespoons I need for the recipe to top the chicken. This sauce, always on hand in the freezer, solves that problem.

It does not however, solve the always taking a second serving problem. At all.



  1. Marie says:

    Karen, will I get amazing sauce if I use store bought tomatoes for this recipe? I think mine are done growing, we’ve been waking to temps in the 40’s (F) and the farmers market is sold out by the time I get there after work.

  2. isabella wigrenini says:

    great recipe. I make it almost identical but we roast carrots ( cut up small enough to be done when the onions and garlic are) as well. It adds a lot of sweetness and a lot of authentic Italian sauces use carrots as I discovered from an Italian friend. I love that you freeze small dollops for smaller servings or recipe needs. You are indeed clever. Thank you for being that way and always bringing a smile to my whole face.
    We are a family of five and three generations, have a huge third of an acre in garden and we now have over 25 quarts of this roasted sauce in our freezer. Bon appetit.

  3. Barbie says:

    I have had the same obsession with this years garden. In that I have not wanted to waste ONE tiny thing! Which means I have been canning for about 2.5 months now ….I have run out of room to store everything and also never in my wildest dreams did I EVER think I could use all my canning jars. I have so many in the attic I could start a store with them. I actually had to go out and buy more even after I was given a whole bunch from friends. I am finishing up my tomatoes today. I’m exhausted with it all. I hate to lose ONE tomato! We always have to pick all tomatoes out of the garden before the frost and we got a really hard frost about a month ago and even with the tomatoes covered it got a lot of them. :( However I have many buckets ripening in the house between newspaper layers. I love this idea of roasted and blended! Then freezing instead of canning. I canned a bunch of our sweet 100 cherry toms last year for a pasta sauce I saw on youtube and it was the most disgusting sauce I have ever eaten. I figured that cherry tomatoes just aren’t good for sauce. Who knew? However you say they are good….perhaps it’s the roasting of them that makes them good in the sauce? Because they were actually bitter in the sauce I made and canned last year. I had to throw it all out.

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That sauce looks amazing..I love recipes that are good and so easy..my tomatoes are done but for a couple getting red..but I can still get home grown from the Amish..I’m thinking at least a couple batches for Winter..Thanks for another great one Karen..

  5. Patti says:

    Haha, Karen, I am EXACTLY the same. I LOVE seconds. It’s like.. the best part! I would rather have seconds than dessert, any day!

    I have also taken to the trick of putting much smaller portions on my plate the first time around – you’re absolutely right – this is the best trick! Except Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving, there are just too many good things to not load up my plate when I take little bits of everything, and then the second plate is just as full. But it’s eaten off of fine china, so I think that cancels out the calories. Just saying.

  6. Diane Amick says:

    Can’t wait to harvest the last of my tomatoes – chop them up and have a go at this fabulous way to savor all that hard work during this past spring/summer next February when we’re under two feet of snow. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

  7. jainegayer says:

    Today’s post totally makes up for the “lash egg, breakfast barfing” post from yesterday.
    Can’t wait to try roasting my tomatoes.

  8. SuzyMcQ says:

    Looks incredible, Karen, and I’m off to the garden, in the pouring rain, to see what’s out there to throw in the oven. I did want to ask about olive oil…no olive oil on these?

    • Karen says:

      omg! Yes there is! I totally forgot to mention that. I’ll amend the post right now! I drizzle the bottom of the sheet, then drizzle the top of the tomatoes. ~ karen

  9. BethH says:

    I can hear the concertina wheezing in the background as a baking sheet of perfectly seasoned tomatoes gently roasts in a slow oven even as I type. Now, how about an interesting recipe for a million green cherry tomatoes besides tomato relish? Something different. Something savory. The chances of me letting all these ripen without rotting is as thin as a witch’s lip.

  10. zoe says:

    I was about to ask a question and I just answered my own question by actually using my brain….

    This sounds delicious though :)

  11. Mary Werner says:

    Karen – I think many of us would be willing to pay a fair price for a cookbook of yours. You could then give the proceeds to a charity that you support like community gardens. What a great way for us to give and get. I’m thinking a homey, self produced cookbook that has plastic coil binding and lays flat many, many, many churches produce.

  12. Erin says:

    I love this post! The going back for seconds thing – that’s something I had to figure out too. Except for pizza. I always eat way too much, but I can’t stop myself. It’s like I think its the last time it will be available…forever.

    I will try the roasted sauce today. I have been roasting some heirloom Principe Borghese tomatoes (small like for sundried tomatoes) but have just been cooking down the big ones for sauce. Duh! It’s time to be happy.

  13. Su says:

    Genius! wish I had some tomatoes to do this….. darn muskrat… may have to go beg some somewhere

  14. Kim says:

    Oh you guys and your WIT! And Karen….geez, I just got to yesterday’s post and threw up a little. But you redeemed yourself with that beautiful sheet of tomatoes.

  15. Tigersmom says:

    Excellent! A new food to add to my roasting bender.

    My oven has never seen so much action. It says “thank you” between long drags off its cigarette.

  16. Madhu Ramakrishnan says:

    i can’t wait to have that

  17. SeaDee says:

    Doooo doo doooo doo. Get outta my brain! I just sat down after putting my pan #5 of all those ingredients in the oven (it’s 12:30am)! I had a ton that were on their way to rotten and I hate to waste. And it’s sooo easy and yummy. I figure I’ll end up with about 45 cups of sauce!

  18. Jamie says:

    Ohhh thank you! Sadly my tomatoes weren’t overly prolific, but my brother in law’s were and he just dropped off a ton. Now I have a plan :)

  19. Bobbi says:

    My pitiful tomato harvest just gave me enough for tomato sandwiches. No tomatoes left at all. You are correct, though…roasting is the way to go for great tomato sauce.

  20. Erika Collins says:

    I was so inspired I just chopped up all the recommended ingredients and they are roasting away in the oven (as we digest our second helpings of dinner….. ) Our house smells like what I imagine Italy smells like at dinnertime…cannot wait to sample the paste! Thanks for the great idea!

  21. Sue T. says:

    Sounds and looks wonderful ! Don’t suppose you would consider making one of your printer friendly versions of your recipe ?…………Please and Thank you!

  22. Rosey says:

    Mmmmm! I do this too but I add a splash of balsamic. So yummy!

  23. Laura says:

    There were so many brilliant little humorous bits in this post… My favorite thing was my mental image of you gracefully farting your way back in the direction of a casserole. I laughed out loud!

  24. Louise says:

    Mmmmm. . . . looks yummy! Is that a bowl full of the rustic sauce, or is it topping something? It looks so good that I might actually make this recipe!

    • Karen says:

      It is indeed a bowl of the sauce Louise. I have to say it’s not the most appetizing thing in the world, lol, but the sauce is SO great, I can’t say enough about it. I’ve made 3 batches of it and I’m going to have to make more because I’m going through it like crazy. I’ve used it for homemade ravioli, and the chicken I mentioned, and just plain old store bought dry pasta. It makes everything taste like you spent hours on it! Because you did, but really it was days, weeks or months ago and you really didn’t have to do much more than stick some tomatoes in the oven. :) ~ karen

  25. Jamieson says:

    This post was like going back for seconds! It was like two, two, two posts in one. I’m going to credit you with doing that slyly on purpose!

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