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Roasted or Smoked Tomato Sauce

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course, Side Dish


  • oven or smoker


  • Fresh Tomatoes - cut into uniform chunks
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper - to taste
  • Fresh or Dried Herbs - optional


  • Cut any variety/shape of tomato in medium/large fairly uniform size chunks (no need to peel them!). Size isn't that important as long as they're all around the same size so they cook up the same. I like to halve cherry tomatoes for this so they release the juices but it's not necessary. Place in a single layer cut-side up in a deep baking sheet lined with parchment. The tomatoes may release quite a bit of liquid while cooking so it's important to do this in a pan with edges so it doesn't run all over your oven.
  • Toss a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever herbs you prefer (I usually use basil and oregano, fresh from the garden or dried).
  • For roasted tomatoes: Roast in a 400 degree oven until their released juices get bubbly and caramelized and they just start to darken up. Depending on the size of your chunks and the moisture content, this is usually 20-50 minutes. Some tomatoes will appear very dry through this process, others get really juicy as they cook. These were all "eating tomatoes" rather than paste/sauce tomatoes but still the liquid content varied quite a bit.
    For smoked tomatoes: I've only smoked tomatoes in a small electric smoker so I suggest you use the basic guidelines in your smoker's manual (or previous smoking experience!) for the perfect smoked tomatoes. I prepare the tomatoes the same as for roasting and use a small pie pan or piece of foil lined with parchment to contain the released juices.
    I've used alder and mesquite chips for tomatoes but still can't decide which we like best! I've had the best success smoking them at a medium-high temperature (275-300) until they bubble and caramelize a bit. This won't happen as dramatically as higher-heat roasting and a little more juice will still be present when they're cooked.
  • If you're going to eat the sauce right away, transfer the warm tomatoes to a heatproof bowl and puree with an immersion blender, or place in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Toss with your favorite pasta and top with cheese for a simple and delicious dinner.
    If you'll be saving the sauce for later, it's all much easier to handle if you let the roasted tomatoes cool before pureeing/processing. Refrigerate the pureed sauce for up to a week, or after it's completely cool you can fill freezer bags to enjoy the flavors of summer the rest of the year.
Keyword canning and preserving, quick dinner, tomato sauce