My new favorite thing this summer is making tomato sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes and my toaster oven. Why would I need to do that when it’s easy to buy tomato sauce in glass jars? Well, several reasons. First, even plastic-free packaging like glass has an environmental footprint. (I’ll write more about that in my next post.) I’d rather avoid most kinds of packaging (especially when the homemade alternative is as simple as this one is.) And second, homemade tomato sauce from fresh summer tomatoes is delicious. In fact, it’s so good, I sometimes just eat it with a spoon directly from its repurposed jar.
Two tools make this recipe super easy for me: my ancient toaster oven and a secondhand stainless steel food mill I found at a yard sale several years ago.
First, I spread out the tomatoes on the toaster oven baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. With bigger tomatoes, you’d want to cut them in half and lay them cut side down. However, these are dry farmed tomatoes, which are smaller but way more flavorful. To save time, I didn’t bother cutting them.
Turn on the broiler (the hottest setting that heats from the top) and cook the tomatoes until the skins get loose and charred. (About 15-20 minutes.) If you want, you can also broil some garlic along with the tomatoes to add to the sauce. But I find that roasting brings out a rich depth of flavor that doesn’t necessarily require further embellishment, which is great for a lazy person like me.
Put roasted tomatoes in a food mill over a glass bowl and vigorously turn the crank. The sauce will drip through to the bowl, leaving behind the skins and seeds.
I store the seeds and skins in the freezer, along with other vegetable scraps, to add flavor to broth. I love my food mill because it’s easy to use and to clean, and it saves energy. (Here’s a link to a food mill on Amazon if you can’t find one secondhand.) It’s also possible to use a simple sieve and spoon, but that method takes a lot longer and can be messier. If you’d rather use an electric food processor than a manual food mill, consider blending up everything — seeds, skins and all — into your sauce.
Keep turning until you’ve extracted as much saucy goodness as possible.
At this point, you have choices. If you’re super lazy like me, you’re done. Pour your sauce into repurposed glass jars and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you are more ambitious, you can add whatever herbs or seasonings you want and reduce the sauce on the stove until it’s the thickness you like.