Published March 1, 2007.
Can a blast of heat transform unremarkable, out-of-season tomatoes into a vibrant sauce for pasta?
A sauce made with canned tomatoes—while good—lacks the meaty intensity of a sauce made with fresh tomatoes.
We wanted to make a great fresh tomato sauce with out-of-season fresh tomatoes—and in a reasonable amount of time.
We knew that roasting caramelizes natural sugars, intensifies flavor, and adds a light touch of smokiness. The first challenge was to keep the tomatoes from exuding so much liquid they simmered rather than roasted. The simple solution was to elevate the seeded tomatoes on a rack set over the baking pan, which allowed for maximum air circulation and promoted better charring. But now our tomatoes were a bit dry and pulpy, a problem solved by keeping the seeds in the tomatoes, which added extra moisture. To improve the color, we tossed the halved tomatoes with tomato paste, which gave the sauce not only a deeper red color but more roasted flavor. We knew that garlic and onions were a must for our sauce; we found that we could roast them along with the tomatoes on a sheet of foil set on the center of a rack, making preparation simple. To finish the sauce, we just needed to add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a touch of sugar, and a splash of bright red wine vinegar along with a little thyme, red pepper flakes, and basil.list of recipes