I am almost in full swoon with the selection and abundance in the market these days. I adore the beautiful tomatoes still clinging to their vine, but removing the vine is an extra step that is sometimes more effort than I’m willing to expend on a hot day. I also want to keep basil fresh all week.
This Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil Oil is a strategy to bottle up the best of the market and help it last all week. So very versatile, I’ve used these sauces to top pasta, homemade pizzas using toasted bread, basil oil drizzled on tomatoes and tomato sauce over fresh mozzarella.
A good blender does all of the work this week. As soon as I arrive home from the market, I address the basil, dousing it with hot water and then dumping into ice water. Squeezed dry in a towel, it is placed in the blender with olive oil and blitzed until smooth. I could add salt but I don’t as I’m never sure how I will use the sauce later in the week. If I decide to add crushed garlic and parmesan cheese for a pesto, the salty parm may be too much. I can always add salt later.
Cherry or other smallish tomatoes still on their vine have a remarkable sweetness and are wonderful raw. However, the sweetness captured makes this sauce taste special. The tomatoes with their stems still attached are placed in a hot oven until they blister and burst. Garlic cloves are also scattered on the same pan and roast in their skins. Roasted garlic loses all its sharpness and becomes soft and buttery. The blistered tomato skins and stems are now easy to pluck off and discard. All of the juices and tomato flesh are poured into a blender with the roasted garlic and some olive oil to blitz into a sauce. I add some sugar and salt, to taste, then bottle it all for use during the week.
It is simple eating all week long….and it’s always the taste of summer.
- 2 lbs cherry or Campari or other smallish tomatoes
- 6 large garlic cloves
- ¼ cup mild olive oil (not extra virgin), plus more for drizzling before roasting
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon granulated can sugar, or more to taste
- 1 Large bunch basil (about 4 cups basil leaves)
- ½ cup mild olive oil (not extra virgin)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the tomatoes (still on their stems if attached) and garlic cloves on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil until lightly coated.
- Place into the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes until skin begins to split and burst.
- When cool enough to handle, pluck off tomato skins and stems and discard. Gently squeeze softened garlic from its papery skin and discard the skins.
- Pour tomatoes and their juice into a blender with the garlic. Add salt and sugar. Blitz until pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste with salt and sugar, if necessary.
- Set a kettle of water to boil.
- Remove basil leaves from stems and discard stems. Place leaves in a heat proof bowl. Prepare another bowl filled with ice water.
- Pour boiling water over basil leaves for about 4 seconds, then drain and place basil leaves into ice water, drain.
- Place drained basil leaves on a double layer of paper towels, roll up and gently squeeze out remaining water.
- Place basil leaves in the blender with the olive oil. Blitz until smooth. Add more oil if a thinner sauce is desired. I often leave it thick then thin with olive oil as needed depending on how I am serving it.
- Both sauces will keep in a jar all week in the fridge.
-Use tomato sauce or blend sauces for a very fresh pasta topping.
-For a pesto sauce, place the Basil Oil in a blender again with a garlic clove and a handful of walnuts or pine nuts, adding a thin stream of additional ¼-cup olive oil, or until desired consistency. Remove to a bowl and stir in ½ cup parmesan.
-Drizzle Basil Oil over sliced raw tomatoes and mozzarella for a Caprese Salad, or over very thinly sliced zucchini.
-Serve the Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce as a soup with an extra drizzle of olive oil and topped with toasted baguette slices.