As much as I love to cook, there are some kitchen tasks that I find absolutely awful. Emptying the dishwasher is one. It is one of those tasks that I simply hate. It probably has something to do with the fact that all of my cabinets and drawers are overflowing with various cooking tools, serving pieces, bakeware, and appliances — and every time I empty the dishwasher I have to unstack all of my leaning towers of cookware to find homes for things. If everything in my kitchen is clean at one time, I literally have no room for it all. Thankfully that doesn’t happen often.


My other hated tasks include anything that is fussy — like peeling pearl onions, pitting cherries, or stuffing little new potatoes or cherry tomatoes for appetizers (Which I have done exactly one time each. Never again.) This list most definitely includes peeling tomatoes. I love buying lots of extra tomatoes in the summer to freeze or make sauce, but I hate the thought of spending an afternoon in the kitchen scoring, parboiling, coring, and peeling tomatoes.

I usually do it because the thought of not having those tomatoes for my soups and sauces all winter long is too terrible. And let’s face it, for many preparations you just don’t want little tomato skin sticks in your recipes. So I suck it up and while I’m doing it, I try to channel my grandmother who would process tomatoes for what seemed like weeks on end every summer. The shelves in her basement were lined with the literal fruits of her labor.


But whenever I get a chance, I do everything in my power to skip that step. This year, I wanted to try a slow roasted sauce that didn’t force me to process all those extra pounds of tomatoes. I was really pleased with the result — the skins almost melt away after hours in the slow oven and once pureed, you’d never know they were there. And feel free to flavor the sauce any way you see fit. Obviously you could use a lot more herbs, add other vegetables (like eggplant, fresh fennel, or zucchini, etc.), cook ground beef, veal, or sausage in the final product for meat sauce, or go the fra diavlo route and spice it up with red pepper flakes or chiles.

All you need is a really big roasting pan (like what you would use for a big turkey), lots of time in the oven with the occasional stir, and a blender or immersion blender. And I promise, you won’t burn one finger trying to peel a hot tomato.


Slow Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce with Basil

Makes about 3 or 4 large jars ( or 10-12 cups of sauce)

1-2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 sweet peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
8-10 pounds of Roma Tomatoes (that was about 36 large ones for me), cored and halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
3 t sea salt
1-2 t freshly ground pepper
2 t dried oregano
1 t fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
3-4 T red wine
Additional Salt, Pepper, and Sugar/Honey to taste
2 big handfuls of basil, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a very large roasting pan, combine the onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, fennel, and bay leaves.

2. Roast tomato mixture in preheated oven for 5-6 hours, stirring every hour or so. Put your feet up and read a book while your house starts to smell delicious. Or more likely, clean your house and fold some laundry.

3. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Remove bay leaves. Puree with immersion blender or in traditional blender (cool mixture a little more if using a traditional blender and be very careful to keep lid off slightly and covered with a towel so the steam can escape).

4. Add red wine and taste for seasoning –adding more salt or pepper if needed. And if your tomatoes are on the acidic side, you might need to add more honey or sugar.

5. Stir in chopped basil and serve as is or put in containers to freeze.


45 thoughts on “Slow Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce

  1. perfect timing, my friend. just bought a ton of tomatoes about two hours ago at farm share. I’ve been slaving for several years now trying to find a good tomato sauce recipe and peeling them! question – how ripe should the roma’s be before cooking them like this? if I bought them today…when should I make the sauce?

  2. I am making this now with yellow plum tomatoes. Just put in the oven and was about to proceed to the “Put your feet up” step, but now Jack is up…

  3. Question: When you say that the tomatoes should be “cored”…does that mean that I would scrape out the entire inside of the tomato so all the seeds and inside stuff would be gone, leaving just the tomato “shell?” Would you use the inside stuff for another use?

  4. Does “sweet peppers” mean green bell peppers ? Looks like green bells from the photo. Maybe you used a combo of green and red bells? Excited to make this!

  5. Made this today – added a little more wine – a little less honey – and some parsley. FABULOUS! I am going to use it as a base sauce and freeze it. Then I can add hot pepper flakes to make fra diavlo, or ground sausage or shrimp or….The posibilities are endless. And I am going to try the peach sorbet/ice cream next. Thanks!!!!

  6. I am excited to try this, I have two of the largest tupperware bowls you can buy heaped full of plum tomatoes that ripened while we were away. So, the thought of peeling 150+ tomatoes was daunting. Am going to try this tomorrow! Would you recommend an immersion blender vs a regular blender? I don’t have a food processor, just an old blender. But can buy the immersion type if you think it would be better?

  7. Thank you Kristin!
    I did it on Convect Bake & it was way done in 2.5hrs. DELICIOUS!
    Thank you!


  8. I just put this in the oven 10 minutes ago and the lovely aroma is already filling my kitchen! Can’t wait to taste this, I know just know it will be awesome – thanks for the recipe!

  9. Our small backyard garden did not produce very good beefsteak tomatoes this year due to blight. However I did have a bumber crop of small plum tomatoes which I used for everything, including sandwiches and salads. This labor day weekend I wanted to harvest the remaining ripe ones and had way more than I could ever use in sandwiches or salads. Not wanting them to go to waste I decided to make sauce. This recipe seemed good one and by golly it was. MY FAMILY and I absolutely LOVED it and liked the plates clean. Tonite, I served it over ravioli and it reminded me of my italian grandmothers sauce. As a kid I couldn’t resist dunking a hunk of fresh crusty italian bread right into the simmering pot when she wasn’t looking and soaking up all that tomato goodness. This recipe is a winner. I’ve printed this and lovingly stored it in my recipe book. Thanks so much.

  10. Are you only suppose to take the seeds out? And, I don’t have whole bay leaves…what am I supposed to do with chopped ones?(came with my spice rack) I guess I have to run to the store?

  11. Angela … just take the stems out of the tomatoes (leave all the seeds alone). And you could probably skip the bay leaves without much problem — unless you have some cheesecloth that you can bundle the chopped ones up in.

  12. This is a great sauce! I had a bunch of tomatoes ripen all at once so this was a great way to use them. I canned a big batch but I’m sure it wont last very long 🙂

  13. Can you pressure can this recipe? I just bought a box of almost over ripe Romas at the farm stand and can’t wait to make this!

  14. Thanks Kristin!! We used all the sauce I made in the fall up in not time but I just got some roma’s on sale this week and put another roaster in. Looking forward to more of this wonderful sauce.

  15. Is it safe to put those glass canning jars in the freezer? They won’t break? Should I do anything special to prevent breaking? Leaving a certain amount of extra room at top for example? Thanks!

  16. Yes … I have frozen this in canning jars with great success. Anything that doesn’t have a high water content is usually OK. So, jams and sauces are usually fine — chicken broth is not (learned that the hard way). I would let them cool completely before freezing though.

  17. a tip to get the skin off tomatoes: cut a little “X” at the bottom of the tmatoe and soak in hot water for a few minutes to loosen, then peel the skin right off!

  18. Slow Roasted Plum Tomatoe Sauce is So easy and so so good over spaghetti, fish, butternut squash…

  19. The best way to peel ur tomatoes is to (wash)freeze them frist . Run hot tap water over them . the skins will just slide off .Just dont over thaw because some of the meat of the tomato will stay on the skin.

  20. My son and I made this today. The kitchen smelled wonderful and the sauce was even better. I tucked several containers away in the freezer and will head out to buy more Roma tomatoes soon.
    Delicious and so easy!

  21. I just made this using mixed varieties of tomatoes. I thought I would have some left for freezing, but it’s so good, now I have to make some more to save!

  22. This recipe is amazing! The taste is so delicious it reminds us of the sauces we tasted it Italy! Thank you for an easy and marvelous pasta sauce.

  23. Kristin,

    Thank you so much for a wonderful and easy recipe. I have been using this recipe for a few years now, and my whole family enjoys the sauce. Who knew we could have such great sauce with so little effort! Thanks to you, I don’t feel overwhelmed by our bumper crop of Romas this year. I know exactly what to do with them:-)

  24. finally down to my last jar from last summer, so i’ll be spending the next couple days roasting tomatoes and making more. thanks for the recipe, Kristin. it’s so easy, even i can make it!

  25. This is the best sauce recipe I have tasted!! It is definitely a happy addition to my fall repertoire of garden produce solutions! Thank you

  26. Thank you for posting this recipe, it was absolutely delicious and simple to prepare. Best plum tomato sauce I’ve eaten or made!

  27. Best tomate sauce I’ve ever made ….delicious! You must have much bigger turkeys though as I needed my two turkey tins! Thanks for the recipe.

  28. I’ve made this several times and it is delicious! I borrow a neighbor’s deep roasting pan because I don’t have one big enough.
    I’ve also made recipe using my outside grill with lid closed and it cuts cooking time.
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  29. Making my 3rd batch! Added eggplant and zucchini like you suggested! It’s a winner! I do mine on grill to not heat up kitchen!

  30. I’ve made this using plum tomatoes for 2 years now and have 25 lbs in the oven now. I never core the tomatoes, just trim off the end. This is the very best tomato sauce I have ever made or eaten!
    I freeze them and eat them all winter. The sauce holds up beautifully for a year!

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