I try to use fresh tomatoes as much as possible in place of canned tomatoes because the acidity in tomatoes leaches BPA out of the lining of most cans. The trouble with using fresh tomatoes is that they’re watery as heck, until I discovered that roasting them oven-dries them, concentrates their flavor, and makes the skins peel off like magic, so here we go!
Start by choosing a “paste” tomato, such as a plum or Roma tomato. They are typically oblong in shape, have less seeds, and aren’t as juicy as round tomatoes. This is a good thing! They are firmer, so you can often find them in a more ripened state than other varieties of tomatoes in grocery stores.
Simply clean, quarter, and core them, then place the wedges skin side down on a rimmed baking tray and roast for 20 minutes. Let them cool a bit, then slip off the skins. This is my favorite part! I weirdly love the sensation of slipping the skin off each wedge.
Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor or blender with a small bunch of fresh basil. Make sure you scrape all the yummy caramelized bits (usually around the edges of the pan) into the food processor for deliciously smoky flavor. You can pulse until you get a puree, or leave the sauce a little chunky.
I used my fresh tomato sauce as a base in three pans of shakshuka last weekend. It was sweet, mellow, and less acidic than canned. The brunch crowded lapped up every last bit of it. Canned might be easier, but making your own tomato sauce is healthier and more fun.
Tomorrow we shakshuka!
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Wash and remove any stems from your tomatoes.
- Cut your tomatoes into quarters lengthwise and remove the core. Place the wedges skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool, then peel. The skins should slip right off.
- Put tomatoes and basil in a food processor and pulse until smooth or chunky, depending on the consistency you like.
- Chill and use in fresh salsa or in any recipe that calls for canned crushed tomatoes.