Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce

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.

This deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is perfect for freezing 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.

This deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is perfect for freezing in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.

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.

This deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is perfect for freezing in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.

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.

This deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is perfect for freezing in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.

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 deliciously rich Roasted Tomato Freezer Sauce is perfect for freezing in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.

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

This deliciously rich sauce is perfect for freezing in small batches for emergency mid-week dinners.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Keyword: roasted tomato freezer sauce, roasted tomato freezer sauce recipe
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 39kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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

Nutrition

Calories: 39kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 45.4% | Vitamin C: 35.3% | Calcium: 1.4% | Iron: 1.8%

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken is an easy stir-fry, so convenient for week night dinners and delicious either by itself or with fragrant basmati rice.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

I have been cooking stir-fries since I was a student so I know by now exactly how I like them. I always cook off the meat first. This is for a few reasons, mainly so the meat doesn’t overcook, as there is nothing worse than dry chicken in your stir-fry. However, by cooking it in the pan first it will leave behind important flavour for the vegetables to cook in, especially if it’s marinated meat. If it’s beef you are using you can ensure it’s cooked exactly to the rarity you like just by searing it off first thing, but when you add it back in at the end make sure the heat is off so it doesn’t continue cooking.

My stir-fries contain a lot of vegetables so it’s also important that the meat has been set aside; I want them to be free to roam the pan so they don’t steam cook, piled on top of each other, jostling for space with the chicken. My final tip is to only add the vegetables to a hot pan with hot oil, as I want them to be cooked hard and fast so they retain bite and don’t get into a soggy mess. This is why I usually blanch my broccoli for a couple of minutes before adding to the stir fry as otherwise it has too much bite and is a bit of a mouthful.

It’s Day 5 of the Whole30 for me and the main ingredients in this chicken marinade are orange juice and coconut aminos. Orange juice is allowed on the Whole30 but only in cooking and not as a drink. Fruit juice in fact is the only sweetener that’s allowed on the plan, but I’m sure we’re expected to use that knowledge responsibly. Besides, here, it’s just involved in a marinade so not all of the juice makes it into the final dish. The coconut aminos is my new friend who arrived into my house only this week as a substitution for soy sauce and tamari which are not allowed on the Whole30. You can buy coconut aminos from Amazon or a very good organic food shop but it isn’t cheap. However, you don’t need much to flavour a recipe and I think it is worth the investment if you are wondering how to get through 30 days without soy sauce.

This was a quick dinner one evening, late after a personal training session, and I was so hungry that I only took a perfunctory photo, I made it again the next night but it was also late and so no pictures. I did want to include the recipe here though as it is one of my old faithful recipes just slightly adapted for the Whole30 plan. Previously I have made this with soy sauce and sherry so it was a bit of an experiment to substitute the soy with my new coconut aminos and to disinvite the sherry. I used the coconut aminos as a straight swap and I have to say I didn’t notice a difference, the marinade tasted just the same as when I have made it before with soy. I compensated for the lack of sherry by adding some sesame seeds which has actually improved the dish immeasurably. I normally do splash some sweet sherry into my stir-fries at the end of cooking but adding sesame instead not only made my dinner suddenly Whole30 compliant but added a lovely crunch to the vegetables.

The Whole30 plan currently doesn’t allow rice but this stir-fry is so full of lovely vegetables, protein and flavour that you can absolutely get away without it. However, if I wasn’t on Whole30 then for sure I would be serving myself a half portion with plenty of fragrant basmati rice.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken is an easy stir-fry, so convenient for week night dinners and delicious either by itself or with fragrant basmati rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: orange ginger sesame chicken, orange ginger sesame chicken recipe
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 531kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into thin strips
  • 60 ml coconut aminos or tamari or soy sauce (if not gluten-free or Whole30)
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger cut into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • ½ head of broccoli florets blanched
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into thin batons
  • Handful of shredded chinese leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Pour the coconut aminos, the orange juice and the garlic into a medium sized bowl then add the chicken and mix to combine. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour but overnight if possible.
  • Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok over a medium flame until hot.
  • Remove the chicken from its marinade with a slotted spoon and add to the wok, cooking for 5-10 minutes until the chicken has just turned golden. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  • Add the rest of the coconut oil to the wok and then when hot add the onion, ginger and chilli and cook until the onion is starting to brown.
  • Then add the rest of the vegetables and the sesame seeds. Stir fry for 5 minutes on a high heat.
  • Re-introduce the chicken, combining everything together and serve piping hot with another splash of coconut aminos on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 989mg | Potassium: 1282mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 210.7% | Vitamin C: 71.1% | Calcium: 12.8% | Iron: 14.1%

SHOP THE RECIPE

Coconut aminos is a larder staple for me which is a gluten-free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce. I personally prefer the taste of coconut aminos to tamari (which is gluten-free but does contain soy) but it is a little pricier. The brand of coconut aminos I love is Cocofina Organic Coconut Amino – Alternative to Soy Sauce 250ml which has a delicious flavour and is what I used in this recipe.

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