This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosures.
This season’s tomatoes are tucked into a large casserole dish with vegetables, herbs and garlic, braised then given a final roast in the oven to deepen the flavour. This deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is blended together then frozen in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.
When I was at university Loyd Grossman’s pasta sauces were the height of sophistication. Those of us who used the posh pasta sauce in lieu of Dolmio or even Tesco’s own brand thought very highly of ourselves and our prowess in the communal kitchen. These jars were so highly prized, being perhaps a good pound more expensive than your average sauce, that you wouldn’t just throw it into a bolognaise but savour it over a mound of penne and a generous grating of value cheddar for company.
My relationship with jars of ready made sauce, or any sort of ready meal for that matter, ended right about there. By the time I graduated I had bought my first cookbook, Nigella’s How to Eat, and was fervently cooking up a large batch of her Vegetable Curry in Vegetable Sauce every Sunday to last me the whole week. Once I started cooking from scratch any ready made meal totally lost its appeal. Suddenly what was such a treat in my first year of university now tasted really salty, far too sweet and maybe a bit off. No offence Loyd.
My distaste toward any sort of ready meal does not always work in my favour these days. Yes I’m healthy and eat a good balanced diet but dammit I’m hungry and my days of seeing cooking as a refuge at the end of a long day are on hiatus and after I put Cole to bed there is no way I want to be peeling vegetables or spend 30 minutes serenely stirring risotto.
No, I have two feelings: hunger and the need to collapse on the sofa with The West Wing, which I am currently re-watching incidentally - it’s good stuff guys. So my inability to see ready meals as real food means I have to cook something so if you’ve got a shortcut to offer me come dinner time then I want it.
So up to the plate steps my own ready made tomato sauce which I have started cooking up every few Sundays to keep in the freezer for our mid-week meals. To call this a roasted sauce is a tiny bit misleading as technically it is a braise first but the final 30 minute roast gives the tomatoes their rich punchy flavour. I’ve kept this Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce very easy to prepare with minimal ingredients but still crammed with veg and flavoured gently with garlic and herbs so that it can be used for a myriad of purposes. I don’t know what I would do without it.
So I also must tell you about these handy silicon moulds which parents have sneakily been keeping under their hats for all this time. Their primary use is for freezing veg or fruit purees for weaning babies but as each portion is about 75ml it’s ideal for little portions of sauces or stock. These quick hits of instant flavour can be defrosted straight into the saucepan in moments. 1 x 75ml portion of sauce is perfect for Cole and 2 x 75ml portions are ideal for each adult. If I am cooking for the whole family then I might take out 4 of these from the freezer, stick them straight into the saucepan onto a low heat to defrost. But if I just need a quick dinner for Cole then it comes together in minutes.
This Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is excellent in its own right but with these few nifty changes you have a different dinner every time:
- Add some mascarpone for a creamy tomato pasta sauce
- Use as a base for regular pizza or this cauliflower pizza
- Simmer the sauce with a few tablespoons of tinned haricot beans for homemade baked beans
- Whisk some stock into the tomato sauce to thin out and add freshly chopped dill for a quick lunchtime tomato soup
I love having this sauce to hand, it is a complete saviour; so much cheaper than the jars of stuff filled with salt and sugar so I can keep my healthy head held high while at the same time kicking back on the sofa with the TV and a bottle of wine. Yes, so super healthy.
Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce
- 1 kg tomatoes - roughly chopped
- 1 large onion - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 carrots - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 red peppers - de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery - roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- Place all the ingredients in a large casserole dish with a lid.
- Mix everything together then put the lid on and cook in the oven for 2 hours, giving a stir halfway through.
- After 2 hours remove the lid and let the vegetables roast for a final half hour.
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool then blend until smooth.
- Separate the sauce into 75ml – 100ml portions then store in the freezer until your dinner emergency.
- I don’t add salt to my tomato sauce pre-freeze so I know I’m not over salting anything for Cole, but by all means add seasoning during the initial cook if you don’t have to worry about small children.
- I use this silicon mould to freeze my tomato sauce overnight, then once frozen pop them out of the mould and store in freezer bags to save on space and free up my mould.
- If you don’t have a silicon mould then portion the sauce into empty jars with lids which work just as well but take up a little more room in the freezer. If you go the jar route, make sure there is a good couple of centimetres of headspace above the sauce to allow for expansion. You will also have to allow time for the sauce to defrost before using otherwise you won’t be able to extract it from the jar.
- Yield 1 litre