Roasted Homegrown Tomato Sauce with Cavatappi

I’m a halfhearted gardener. I put in tomato plants, basil and herbs, and plant a few things that don’t need much attention. I drag out the messy, half finished contents of my compost bin and spread it around. After that, a little water and occasional weeding it all I can muster. But at the end of the season, I freeze my basil, and when my tomatoes finally deliver, I roast tomatoes. This year we had stretches of drought and high heat, and I was lucky to get this harvest, to make Roasted Tomato Sauce and Cavatappi. I had half the sauce left to freeze.

Roasting Tomatoes Makes the Best Sauce

I know, that’s a big claim. There are plenty of ways to process tomatoes, and I’m nobody’s Nonna. But I find that the high heat of the oven sweetens and concentrates the tomatoes, and gives the skin a little char. Instead of the bright, acidic flavor of a great fresh tomato, you get a deeper, more tomatoey taste. An hour in a 400 degree oven was enough to bring out the best in these tomatoes, and they were ready to make into a delicious sauce.

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Roasted Tomatoes

Do You Strip The Skins For Roasted Tomato Sauce?

After the tomatoes are soft and juicy, It’s easy to strip off the skins. They are too hot, just out of the oven, so let them cool and then pinch the loose skins away frm the soft flesh. You can also leave some of them on, for a hint of bitterness and the smoky flavor in the blackened skins.

Flexible and Easy to Do

I didn’t have a huge harvest this week, but that’s the great thing about this method. 10 tomatoes, 60 tomatoes, it works either way. Just halve them, roast them, puree them. Use them today, in this easy pasta, or freeze the sauce for later. My small pile of tomatoes made about 3 cups of puree, and I used 1 cup for this pasta. The rest went into the freezer, for winter pasta feasts, soups, and other uses.

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To Thicken Roasted Tomato Sauce

Once my tomatoes were peeled, I transferred the pulp and the juices to a blender. Don’t waste any of the precious liquids. Once blended, it was about as thick as the tomato sauce you buy in cans or jars, but if you want it thicker, you can always simmer it for a while, to cook away some of the water and make it more concentrated.

With about 30 minutes of hands-on time, I had a lovely dish or pasta and some sauce to freeze. Try it, you’ll be blown away by the intense tomato flavor, and glad you put some by for the colder months.

Roasted Tomato Sauce and Cavatappi with Sauce

Author Robin Asbell


Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • 3-4 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil slivered
  • salt


  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 1 large carrots thinly julienned
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
  • more basil


  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Halve the tomatoes, place in a heavy roasting pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, toss, then place cut side down.
  • Roast the tomatoes for an hour, until blackened in spots. Take out and let cool. Strip the skins from the tomatoes, discard the skins, and keep the juices.
  • While the tomatoes roast, saute onion in olive oil, and reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally, letting the onion caramelize and turn golden brown as the tomatoes roast.
  • When the onions are ready, add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
    Transfer the tomatoes and their juices to a blender and process until almost smooth, a little texture is nice. Add to the onions in the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Measure the tomatoes for the pasta, and let the rest cool before freezing or refrigerating for future use.

For Pasta

  • Put on a large pot of salted water to cook the pasta. Cook the cavatappi according to package directions, add the carrots at the same time as the pasta.
    Place the chickpeas in the strainer and when the pasta is cooked, drain over the chickpeas, warming them.
    In the pan you cooked the sauce, reheat the reserved sauce, add the cooked pasta mixture, and toss to coat. Add basil and serve.