Summer Tomatoes: Provencal Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce (seen here with gnocchi)


A week or so ago, jwa and I were outside surveying the garden and we noticed we had about 40 tomatoes (a mix of Early Girls and Romas) that had all ripened at once. Seriously. Something needed to be done and be done fast.

Enter Provencal Tomato Sauce. Wow — so tomatoey and garlicky. Make a batch or two and enjoy a little bit now and a little bit later from the freezer. I found this sauce to be so rich and intensely tomato flavored, I even added a little vegetable stock to thin it out just a bit.

We had some over some plain store bought gnocchi. Wonderful. The rest will be enjoyed over some linguine one night, once the weather is chilly again.

Provencal Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine
olive oil for brushing pans
1 head garlic
4 pounds vine-ripened red tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp fresh orange juice, or to taste (I used the juice from 1 medium orange)
Optional: 1/4 cup vegetable stock

The garden tomato bounty

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and lightly brush 2 shallow baking pans with oil. Now, if this temperature is too high for your oven (read: if it’s not spotlessly clean, it’ll smoke), do it at 425 degrees and just increase the cook time about 5-10 minutes. How do I know this works? Let’s just say I will be cleaning the oven soon…


Separate garlic head into cloves, discarding loose papery outer skin but keeping skin intact on cloves, and wrap in foil, crimping seams to seal tightly. Cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange in one layer in baking pans. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons each of rosemary and thyme evenly over tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.


Put foil-wrapped garlic in one of baking pans with tomatoes and roast garlic and tomatoes in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through roasting, about 35 minutes total, or until garlic is tender and tomatoes are slightly charred. There will be tomato shrinkage — that’s okay. Unwrap garlic and cool slightly.


Peel skins from each clove and force pulp with warm tomatoes and herbs through a food mill fitted with small disk into a bowl. Another option is to use a hand-held blender and puree it that way. The blender will leave little bits of tomato skin, skin but I didn’t mind that at all. It builds character.


Finely chop remaining teaspoon rosemary and remaining teaspoon thyme and stir into sauce with orange juice. If it’s a bit thick, this is where you an add a little vegetable stock. Season sauce with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary. Sauce keeps, covered and chilled, 4 days or, frozen, 4 months. To reheat, simmer sauce over low heat and reseason with orange juice, salt, and pepper.


Like I mentioned above, I served this sauce with gnocchi and sauteed zucchini. It made great lunches for both jwa and I to bring to work.

3 Replies to “Summer Tomatoes: Provencal Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce (seen here with gnocchi)”

  1. I’m a horrible gardner who has allowed tomatoes get out of control and take over the last 4 years, so my wife has forbid tomatoes until I take more responsibility with my life.
    But my realtor has been bringing me a steady flow of tomatoes from her garden (that’s the bonus for her feeling guilty that the market sucks and we can’t sell our house).
    Saturday I made a lasagne with layers of tomato sauce (roasted with oregano and marjoram and leeks – which I’m allowed to grow), cinnamon-and-sage scented ground pork and beef, parslied ricotta, and bechamel (with a touch of nutmeg).
    What commercially prepared gnocchi do you like?

  2. That lasagne sounds amazing. I am so anxious for the official start of cheesy baked meals season. Much like your tomato rule, I have been imposed with a no baking big cheesy things until it is cold out rule — the cats are mean.
    I usually get gnocchi at Cost Plus, (I forget the brand they carry) or Trader Joe’s (not the basil-flavored, just the plain). Both these brands are pretty good.

  3. Yum. I don’t have room to grow tomatoes but I’ll be trying this when I find some nice ones at the markets. Orange juice? You’ve got me interested.
    Also, I stumbled onto your blog the other day. I’m enjoying your attitude to food and I’ve put a link to here from my blog. Thanks

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