You Can Make This Pasta Sauce With Even The Blandest Tomatoes

Try as you might to avoid it, you will — at some point — find yourself with either too many tomatoes, some bland, flavourless tomatoes, or too many bland, flavourless tomatoes. The solution, my friends, is to make pasta sauce.

Photo: Claire Lower

You know I have nothing against peeling tomatoes — even tiny ones — but this recipe doesn't require it. Rather than peel and stew the love apples, you simply roast them (along with a whole head of garlic), drawing out all their flavour and caramelising their sugars for a sauce with a shocking amount of depth.

Add some spicy Italian sausage, a splash of wine, and a few tablespoons of butter, and you have a flavour-blasted sauce made from mediocre produce.

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There is some waiting time while they roast, but all in all it's a very easy recipe to execute. To make this sauce, you will need:

  • 900g of tomatoes — any tomatoes — quartered if they're large, halved if they're Romas, left whole if they're cherries
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • 220g of your favourite mild or spicy Italian sausage
  • 30mL of wine or other deglazing liquid
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Add the tomatoes and garlic to a large casserole or roasting pan and drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt, give everything a little stir and pop it in a 190°C oven until the tomatoes get all jammy and are darkened on the edges.

Depending on the tomatoes you use and how much you chop them up, this can take 45 minutes to an hour and a half. This step can be done hours or even days a head of time but, if it's much too hot for all of that, roast the tomatoes and garlic on the grill.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and set them aside. Heat a small Dutch oven or sauce pan over medium-high heat and add the sausage, cooking until it is golden brown with crispy edges. Add the wine to deglaze all the little burnt bits on the bottom, giving it a good scrape with a wooden spoon.

Add the tomatoes and all their juices along with the butter, and reduce the heat to low while you prepare your favourite pasta.

Photo: Claire Lower

Once the pasta is cooked and the butter in the sauce has melted, give it a stir and a taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a bit of pasta water to thin it out.

Serve immediately with al dente noodles, with fresh basil if you are so inclined.


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