Homemade is Better—Roasted Tomato Sauce

It’s that time of year when we start to think about more dinner parties and having family and friends over.  I challenged myself to develop a unique recipe that would be good for sharing with others or just with the family.  We have three children, and they love spaghetti with tomato sauce.  When we add meatballs, they get more excited and devour dinner like it’s going out of style.  When I was at the store getting my ingredients, I noticed a wider variety of pasta brands.  During the new year, here, I’m going to compare all the brands I can find at my local No Frills, and I’ll give you the rundown on which one we liked more.

I usually experiment a little before writing my recipes; other times, I get inspiration from several different recipes and combine those ideas to make a new recipe.  Cooking is not always about following a recipe, and when you become more proficient, it is easy to add or remove ingredients; you can even use variations of current ingredients.  I’ve written about foodsubs.com before, and it’s a fantastic website.  The website was recently overhauled and is easier to use and gives you better search choices.  I use foodsubs.com when I need an ingredient, but either cannot find it or don’t want to search a thousand stores for it.  I also use it when I figure out a ratio for fresh to dry herbs like parsley or oregano.  I generally use dry herbs because I don’t make enough sauces in a week to use fresh herbs, but I will use fresh ones to make specialty sauces.

An example would be pesto, which generally requires fresh basil.  Dry basil doesn’t contain moisture, a requirement of making pesto.  I find that dry is not as flavourful as fresh, BUT fresh is more difficult to use before it goes bad.  As such, I tend to use dried because I can store it for longer, and it still has some flavour.

Speaking of flavour.  I’ve written a tomato sauce recipe but roasting the vegetables before making the sauce makes it more unique.  A slight charring from a hot oven or grill caramelizes the sugars and gives the peppers and tomatoes a deeper flavour.  If you make this recipe in the summer or use your grill in the winter, you can cook all the vegetables outside.  You will benefit from some added grill marks, and if you use a charcoal grill or smoker, you’ll get a smoke flavour.  For this recipe, I used my oven at high heat to char the outside skin on everything.  I then remove the skin from the pepper and tomato, use the onion as is, and squeeze the garlic.  Let this cook for a few moments in your pot, then add in the spices and liquids to get the volume.  Let it simmer for about an hour to blend the flavours and add your favourite pasta or store it in an airtight container for up to a week.  Alternatively, you can freeze this recipe for up to four months, or even longer if you vacuum seal it.

I found this recipe perfect for our family of five, and if you have a smaller family or younger children, you get some great leftovers.  Get your oven on and follow along as you make this delicious recipe.

Roasted Tomato Sauce


1 onion diced – roasted
2 red peppers roasted, seeded, and diced
6-8 vine tomatoes roasted, seeded, and diced
1 head of garlic, top cut off and roasted
2 tsp Smoked paprika
2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine (optional)
1 5.5oz can tomato paste
2 – 3 cups of vegetable broth

  • Preheat your oven to 425F.
  • Grab a baking sheet and line it with some parchment.
  • Clean the tomatoes and peppers in warm water, then pat them dry.
  • Place them on the baking sheet. Alternatively, you can halve the tomatoes and peppers and remove the seeds ahead of time.  Place the halves skin side up.
  • Cut the onion in half, and remove the first layer or two.
  • Add the whole garlic but cut the top off to expose the cloves.
  • Optionally you can cover everything in olive oil; it adds a bit of a sheen and helps with the roasting but is not mandatory.
  • Roast for 25-35 minutes until the tomato and peppers look dark, with charring on the skin.
  • Remove from the oven and let everything rest for five minutes.
  • After resting, start removing the skin from the tomatoes and peppers. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but off as much as you can.
  • After the tomatoes and peppers are peeled, dice them and the onion into small pieces if you want a chunky sauce, or chop them roughly if you plan to use a blender or immersion blender.
  • Add the onion, squeeze the garlic into a large pot, and cook for about a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper.
  • Add the red wine (if you are using it) and allow it to reduce by half while still stirring occasionally. Otherwise, move on to the next step.
  • Add the tomatoes and peppers, and sauté for another two minutes.
  • Add the herbs and one teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir the ingredients.
  • Add the tomato paste and vegetable broth, then simmer for an hour or until it has reached the desired thickness.
  • If you want a smooth sauce, this will be the time to blend it, then simmer it again for another 20 minutes. Remember to remove the bay leaves first; if the sauce is too thick, add some more vegetable broth and continue to simmer.
  • Taste for flavour and add more salt and pepper if desired.