When I was a young mom, I developed a love affair with Italian dishes and I loved making gorgeous pasta dishes, risotto and delicious pizzas. I remember one of the first cookbooks I really treasured was by Giada DeLaurentis (Everyday Italian) that contained some amazing recipes – to this day the baked rigatoni is my signature dish – and lots of inspiration to jumpstart my love affair with cooking. Now when I say cooking, I don’t mean weeknight dinners as that was often just really stressful as my kids were often picky eaters. Cooking for me was when I had time to be creative, to relax with a glass of wine as music played softly in the background and to take the time to build flavors and create complex dishes. That was so much fun. It was a place where I relaxed, let everyday stresses melt away and simply enjoy that creative time. It helped that I got to share the end results with my family and our guests, who were always effusive about the food, as we lingered around the dinner table talking and laughing.
I started out making Giada’s marinara sauce as I loved the simplicity of her dishes but I often experimented with making my own marinara sauce as I love this often bright and delicious red sauce. I love adding extra veggies (which is why I add red peppers) as it was a way to add more nutrients without taking away from dish I was making. This past year however, my marinara sauce got a serious upgrade. When I was consulting with a staging client she was roasting something incredible in the oven and I asked her what she was cooking. She shared that she was roasting the ingredients for her marinara sauce and I was immediately interested because roasting vegetables is one of my absolute favorite ways to cook them. She shared her recipe with me and since then, I have tried it and tweaked it to suit our tastes but I have to tell you that roasting the ingredients first creates a gorgeous, rich marinara sauce that truly transforms any dish you make with it. Whether its served over pasta or layered into lasagna or on your own pizza – this sauce is incredible.
What I have also discovered is that its best when made with fresh (and locally grown) produce. We are so very lucky to have access to amazing local farmers markets during warmer months so I have made batches of it and they are tucked in the freezer so we can enjoy this a few times over the winter. For our family, there is nothing as wonderful as a cold winter night warmed up by a delicious Italian pasta dish, tossed salad and if I get the time – home made tiramisu.
As a side benefit as well, marinara sauce is packed full of healthy nutrients so it can, and should be enjoyed, as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you want to increase the protein content, consider swapping out regular pasta for chickpea or lentil pasta (this is our pasta of choice) to make this dish both yummy and extra satisfying.
Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce
- 8 cups cherry tomatoes or 24 medium tomatoes
- 8-10 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 sweet onions quartered
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt & Pepper
- fresh basil leaves
- 1 can tomato paste optional
- 2 red peppers cored and quartered
- Preheat oven to 425 °F and line two 9 x 13 pans with parchment paper
- Wash and stem the cherry tomatoes (or wash and core the whole tomatoes). Spread the tomatoes evenly over two baking pans lined with parchment paper. Toss the onion, garlic cloves and red peppers between the tomatoes so you have even amounts on both pans. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 35-45 miniutes (approx.). The vegetables will smell amazing as they roast and once done, all the vegetables should be slightly charred around the edges with a deep, roasted color. If you prefer a thicker sauce, cook the vegetables longer but make sure you stir them to keep them from burning. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool 15 minutes.
- Place a large colander inside a large bowl and dump the pans into the colander to strain out the juice. Set the juice aside.
- Scoop the vegetables into a blender or food processor. Add basil leaves (start with a few and then add to suit your tastes). Puree until the sauce reaches your desired consistency and then add the reserved tomato juice back in, pulsing to combine.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, add tomato paste if you wish and stir.
- Use immediately over pasta or as part of a pasta dish. If freezing, place in plastic containers or bags for up to 6 months in your freezer.
Have questions or would like more yummy recipes? Let me know! I would love to hear from you!