What to Do with a Surplus of Tomatoes from Your Garden
If you’re like me, you’ve been harvesting a bounty of beautiful tomatoes from your garden all summer – more than you could ever possibly eat before they spoil. I used to put tomatoes in everything to try and use them all up … in pasta sauce, on pizza, in salsa, in rice and a variety of other dishes. Every summer I would scramble to brainstorm new ways to use up every single tomato. But then I discovered a better way to take advantage of all those delicious tomatoes from my garden: making and freezing my own pasta sauce.
While you can make a delicious pasta sauce with canned tomatoes, nothing beats the rich taste of using fresh tomatoes. Best of all, this sauce recipe is so easy – anyone can do it and enjoy garden-fresh pasta sauce year round.
To get started, you’ll need tomatoes – lots of them! You’ll be roasting them in large batches in the oven, so just keep roasting batches until you use them all up.
Roasting the Tomatoes
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Core and slice the tomatoes in half and lay them cut side down on a baking sheet.
- Here’s where you can use a few tricks to infuse even more flavor in your sauce. You can peel cloves of garlic and place them in the tomatoes so the flavor is absorbed during the roasting process. You can also slice an onion and place it on the sheet with the tomatoes. All of those extra steps will help pack the tomatoes with a delicious punch of flavor.
- Before sticking the pan in the oven, drizzle the tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil.
- Roast the tomatoes for 40 minutes, or until you see the skin start to brown and the tomatoes look very soft. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
- Once they are cool enough to handle, drop the tomatoes into a food processor or blender and pulse until the sauce reaches your favorite consistency. Sometimes I like to go with a chunkier sauce and sometimes I decide to puree the tomatoes and get a very smooth sauce. It’s all up to you and your preference as to how long you want to process the tomatoes.
Using the Tomatoes for Sauces
Pour the sauce into freezer-safe bags or storage containers. One trick I like to use is placing the sauce bags flat in the freezer so they freeze very thin. Then I can stand them up on their sides like books. This is a great space saver tip for those of you who have a small freezer or – like me – have a very packed freezer at all times.
When you want to use the sauce, all you need to do is transfer a bag or container to the refrigerator to thaw. Once the sauce has thawed, you can use it just as you would use sauce from a can.
This is a very simple sauce, so I always kick it up a notch when I’m cooking pasta. My favorite simple sauce recipe involves just a few ingredients.
- Dice a medium onion and mince three gloves of garlic.
- Sauté those in a little butter and extra virgin olive oil until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent.
- Add in a cup of full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon and simmer until it reduces by half.
- Then add your sauce – about the equivalent of three standard 14-ounce cans.
- Finish it off by adding two tablespoons of sugar and pepper and salt to taste.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes and enjoy!