Alex’s Roasted Summer Sauce
Posted by Gail | Filed under Gail Cooks!
Every now and then I come up with an idea that is simply genius. Several years ago I decided to make a roasted tomato and garlic sauce from scratch, and over the years I’ve refined it. It’s become Alex’s go-to sauce, so each summer I make a HUGE batch of it and freeze it for the less sunny months. My favorite part of this sauce is the basil. Our house loooovess basil and I grow it in pots, in the garden and on the windowsill. If you’re not a basil fan (really?) then leave it out because it doesn’t come into the mix until the very end.
I don’t blanch and skin my tomatoes, mostly because I’m a lazy cook, but also because the skin is full of fibre and once you’ve blended the sauce, you can’t tell that there are seeds and skin in the mix. Besides, I find that with the skin and seeds in, the sauce has a lot more body.
Did you know that there have been dozens and dozens of studies that show that the more tomatoes and tomato products you eat, the lower your risk of illness. Lycopene, the chemical that makes tomatoes red, is a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize harmful free radicals. And since cooking breaks down cell walls, releasing and concentrating carotenoids, cooked tomatoes (the whole tomato) with a small amount of fat, enables lycopene to be better absorbed.
And then there’s the basil, which contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, along with very high levels of vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Betcha didn’t know all that! And basil leaves are an excellent source of iron!
Basil has been held in high regard for centuries. In Romania, men would give basil to their loves to become officially engaged. Italian men would place a sprig of basil in their hair to win their love’s attention. And Mexican’s would keep basil in their pockets as a token of luck in having their love returned forever. It’s been estimated that there are between 50 and 150 species of basil, but not all can be used in cooking. In the summer I not only grow sweet basil, which is the best know, but also Thai basil and lemon basil.
Alex’s Roasted Summer Sauce
I make this sauce by tasting, so I’m giving you the starting point and you must use your own taste buds to make it right for you.
- 2 baskets of summer tomatoes
- 3 heads of garlic
- 6 red peppers
- A LOT of basil… handfuls and handfuls
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tbs sugar (or to taste)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
Put tomatoes in a oven proof dish and slow roast at 300 degrees for about 4 hours. (You don’t have to blanche and skin, the skin’s good for you!)
At the 2-hour mark, de-seed the red peppers and add to the roasting tomatoes. (No skinning necessary, see how easy?)
At the 3-hour mark, put the heads of garlic in to bake.
Work while the ingredients are still hot/warm. You can use a blender or a hand-held puree device to mush it all up. You’re going to blend until smooth the tomatoes, red peppers and roasted garlic. Slowly add to taste the olive oil, sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar.
When the concoction is smooth, put into freezer containers. Add 2-3 stems (yes, that much) worth of basil leaves to the containers before covering to freeze.
The warmth of the sauce means the basil infuses into the sauce without disintegrating. Depending on your love of basil, leave in when serving, or remove after thawing.