Once again we had a plethora of tomatoes and had to find a recipe so that we could use them before they went bad. We came across this most excellent tomato sauce that is relatively easy to make and has a unique, smoky flavor. The perfect pasta dish to serve on a fall evening.
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (9-12 medium), cored and halved pole to pole
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (may substitute with red wine or real lemon juice)
granulated sugar to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and place a cooling rack on top. Place a small square of foil (approx. four inches) in the center of the rack. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the tomato paste, half the olive oil, thyme, pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss tomatoes, onion, and garlic in the tomato paste mixture until evenly coated. Place the onion and garlic on the small square in the middle of the rack. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, around the garlic and onion.
Roast until the vegetables are soft and tomato skins are well charred, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for five minutes. Transfer garlic and onion to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Remove the charred skin from the tomatoes. Add tomatoes, vinegar, and remaining olive oil to the food processor. Pulse until broken down but still chunky, about five 1-second pulses. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Continue to process sauce until slightly chunky. Stir in basil.
Makes 3 to 31/2 cups (enough to sauce one pound of pasta)
This sauce goes well with short pasta shapes. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with fresh bread.