Sunday, March 4, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Marinara Sauce

Give BPA the boot! Vote With Your Pocket Book!

Roasted Vegetable Marinara ready for use with vegetable lasagna!
I developed the recipe for Roasted Vegetable Marinara due to my abject fear of continuing my Bisphenol A (BPA) habit.

Yeah I didn’t even know I had a BPA habit. I guess loving canned tomatoes like nobody’s business and loving the convenience of canned soups and boxed broths and the occasional mushy canned green bean cooked for hours in bacon and onions means I’ve been going steady with BPA my entire life. Especially since my mom loved these same foods and ate them while she was preggers with me. That’s not a good thing.

You can read more about BPA here in the Fluffy Chix Talk Nutrition area. I won’t bore you here.

All I will say is…can you say, “Hello breast cancer? It’s me Susie. Not happy to meet you!” *wah* *hic*

Finished Roasted Vegetable Marinara
has deep, complex flavor.
Before you get your panties in a ruffle over this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Marinara, let me warn you in advance, it’s gonna appear to be complicated and like there are lots of ingredients. There are. But if you want something to taste complex and like Emeril Lagasse made it for you, you have to learn to build flavor.

Right, Emeril?

And the only way to build flavor is in layers, by steps and with an array of herbs, spices and cooking methods. And since we aren’t using any quick short cuts like using canned tomato paste, canned tomatoes, or canned tomato sauce in this recipe, well yeah – it’s a bit complicated.

But having said that, once you master this technique – you will see just how easy it is to make this sauce and put it in the deep freeze. Or better yet, learn to safely can and make your own jarred tomato products and marinara sauces! It’s a relatively stress free process and you feel like Sheena Mistress of the Kitchen when you’re through. It’s so simple you’ll be able to make it in your sleep. You will never miss your nasty canned tomatoes or Ragu again! Your family and friends will think you graduated from the CIA with this sauce in your repertoire!

Free your mind! Leave the measuring spoons
in the drawer!

Oh and the best part? I’m here to free you from the tyranny of your spoon! Your measuring spoon that is…because this is an inexact recipe. Make it YOUR way. Personalize it. Get jiggy with your palm and measure your OWN amounts of spice according to your tastes. You can do eeeeeet!

I’m also here to free you from the tyranny of the canned tomato and its raucous canned tomato family: tomato sauce, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and tomato juice. Get lost Canned-Sally-Tomato! We don’t want your kind around here anymore!

Roasted Tomatoes add deep flavor to sauces.
 Roasting tomatoes develops and concentrates the tomato flavor, eliminating our dependence on thickened tomato products from a can or box. Good bye Bisphenol A (BPA)! You’re a home wrecker! Get outta here!

Because of the steps involved, I usually make a double recipe of this Roasted Vegetable Marinara and freeze it in freezer safe glass jars. And yes, I’m a scaredy cat who’s afraid to can – I’m afraid of botulism and things that go bump in the night. Sorry. Bottom line, Roasted Vegetable Marinara freezes beautifully. And if you are a fearless home canner, this stuff will can equally well!

Roasted Vegetable Marinara is flexible. Yep, another flexible recipe! If you don’t like some of the ingredients omit them! If it’s too high carb for your comfort, then ditch some of the veggies and simply roast tomatoes and onions, some basil and garlic. Eh, you’re done! See? Easy!

I won’t lie this sauce is best when made during tomato season, because not only are tomatoes cheaper then, but they taste better fresh from a garden or farmers market during the summer season. I buy seconds or “ugly” tomatoes from a farm stand – the ones with blemishes, bruises and bug bites. I get them for about $0.80/lb – what a bargain!). But the recipe works just as well with store bought Roma tomatoes or Campari tomatoes or even grape tomatoes and can be made year round.

Roasted Vegetable Marinara - Updated 03.06.12
 *Sorry! I forgot to put the Sun Dried Tomatoes in the first time! Doh!
Roasted Marinara Sauce - BPA Free!

Serves – 16 (2 Quarts)
Serving Size – ½ Cup
Prep Time – 45 Minutes
Cooking Time – Approx. 1-1/2 Hour (total)
Difficulty – Intermediate

3 lbs Roma Tomatoes
1 lb Campari Tomatoes
9 Sun Dried Tomatoes
1 lg Yellow Onion
1 lg stalk Celery
1 lg Red Bell Pepper
3 oz Baby Carrots
½ lb Mushrooms, raw
½ c Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, unpeeled, whole
4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Cracked Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp Thyme Leaves
1 Tbsp Oregano Leaves
1-1/2 Tbsp Basil Leaves, dried
2 Bay Leaves
1/4c Basil, fresh, chopped
8 fl oz Dry Red or White Wine
2 Tbsp Butter
¼ to ½ c Parmesan Cheese, fresh, grated
1 c Water (if needed)


Wash and dry veggies. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Cut baby carrots in half lengthwise and if you want to save carbs, you can omit them. Slice red bell pepper lengthwise and remove the white veins and seeds. Leave red pepper in big sections. Cut onion and mushrooms in large chunks. Leave skins on garlic cloves.

In large mixing bowl, place cut tomatoes and add about a tablespoons of olive oil, Worcestershire and Balsamic Vinegar. Add a palm size of dried thyme and oregano (about a tablespoon). Add a palm of garlic powder (about a tablespoon). Add roughly 1-1/2 to 2 times more dried basil (about 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons). Add about 4 large pinches (roughly a teaspoon) of Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. Toss all of these ingredients together in a bowl.

Remove tomatoes from mixing bowl and place tomatoes cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. I don’t use aluminum foil because I will deglaze the pan later and I want the pan to have brown areas in it. This is impossible to do when you foil line the pan.

Reserve the marinade liquid from the tomatoes in the big mixing bowl. Don't throw it away!

Cut dry ends off a bunch of parsley (about 1/2c to 1c of Italian Flat Leaf Parsley). Coarsely chop parsley and combine with other chopped veggies in the same large mixing bowl where you mixed the tomatoes. You should still have some of the tomato marinade left in it from when you tossed the tomatoes.

Toss this marinade with the chopped veggies. Place veggies on an oiled baking sheet pan. And sprinkle with salt. Don’t use aluminum foil on this pan either. You will also deglaze this pan.

Place the two sheet pans in the oven to bake. For the first 20 minutes, the veggies will go on the bottom rack of the oven. The tomatoes will cook on the top rack. After 20 minutes, the wracks will rotate positions in the oven. The tomatoes will bake on the bottom rack and the veggies will move to the top rack.

Bake tomatoes and veggies at 450°. After approximately 20 minutes, remove tomatoes from oven. Carefully drain off any tomato liquid in the pan and reserve this liquid for later. Turn the tomatoes over with a spatula to face cut side up and place them back in the oven, this time on the lower rack. Bake another 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let tomatoes cool to the touch so you can work with them.

After 20 minutes on the lower rack, remove the veggies and stir the veggies with a spatula. Try to turn them over as much as possible. Place them back in the oven, this time on the upper rack. Remove them when browned. The veggies may get done quicker than the tomatoes. It may only take an additional 10-15 minutes of cooking at 450°.

While veggies and tomatoes are roasting, heat 1/2c of wine in the microwave, for about 15 seconds or until the wine is piping hot. Remove wine from microwave and add SDT (sun dried tomatoes) to the hot wine. Cover cup with a saucer and allow the tomatoes to steep for about ten minutes or until soft. Once softened or rehydrated, place wine and SDTs in the bowl of a mini chopper or blender. Pulse to blend. You want a puree texture; because the pureed sun dried tomatoes take the place of your tomato sauce.

In large Dutch oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the blended sun dried tomatoes and sauté over medium heat. You are looking for a change in the color and also the smell of the sun dried tomatoes. The color will change from a bright red to a more rusty red. It will also change from a bright acidic smell to a “caramel” or “brown”, almost nutty smell. That takes about 10-15 minutes over medium. Stir often to keep it from burning. If you burn the tomato “paste” at this step, clean your pan and start over. There is no repair for burnt paste.

We’re starting to build the base of your sauce. Woohoooo! Look at you Mama! You’re smokin’ now!

Add the liquid drained from the roasted tomatoes to the cooked-off sun dried tomato base in the large Dutch oven. Bring liquid base to a slow simmer (a simmer is slow rolling bubble – not a boil) and reduce liquid by about half. You will be able to tell because the sauce base will thicken quite a bit.

When veggies are done, put contents of veggies into the bowl of a food processor or blender. I used my small Ninja bowl and it worked great! Puree veggies and add the puree into the sauce base in the Dutch oven. If you need to add a little fluid to the veggies to get them to puree, simply add a little water – not much – about ¼ to ½ cup will do it.

Set the sheet pan where you cooked your veggies aside for later. You will deglaze this pan and add the liquid to the sauce base.

Simmer the veggies with the base for about 10 minutes as you wait for the tomatoes to finish roasting and to cool enough to process them. I find it helpful to use a lid on the Dutch oven to help minimize splattering.

My favorite lid is a perforated pizza pan that I found at the thrift store for a buck. It allows sauces to evaporate like they would if cooked without a lid, but minimizes spattering and popping sauces! Yay!

When tomatoes are done, pour off any remaining liquid from the tomato baking pan into the simmering sauce base. When tomatoes are cool enough to work with, pinch the skin of each tomato and the skin should easily separate from the tomato pulp. Once all the skins are removed, squeeze them in your hands to get out any residual tomato liquid. This will go into the sauce base too! Puree the tomatoes in the food process or blender. I used the small Ninja bowl for this too.

Add tomato puree to the sauce. Let it continue cooking as you make the final steps ready.

Reserve the sheet pan where you cooked the tomatoes. You will deglaze these sheet pans next!

Congrats! You are ¾ of the way there now! Yay!

You now have a marinara sauce simmering on the stove! Time to turn up the volume on it and add a punch of flavors!!!

Let’s deglaze and scrape up all the lovely browned bits on the bottom of our sheet trays. This can be tricky sometimes cuz the pans are big. I work it one pan at a time. Place the sheet tray over two burners and turn the burners on medium. It helps to wear an oven glove or oven mit while doing this in case you need to grab the pan and steady it.

Pour in water (about ½ cup for each pan), just enough to get the job done. The water will help loosen the browned bits in the pan. Use a spatula and gently work it back and forth on the brown areas to loosen it up and free it to make a sauce. You can tell it’s working when the color of the water goes from clear to brown! Once you have all the bits off the bottom and sides of the baking pan (this happens in about 5 minutes or so), turn off heat and drain liquid into the simmering marinara. Repeat the process for the second pan.

This may seem like a hassle but this step of deglazing your baking sheets adds SO much deep flavor to your sauces. It is what separates the home cook from the gourmet chefs!

Add the stems from the basil leaves, 2 bay leaves, the cracked red pepper, and the remaining last ½ cup of wine to the simmering roasted vegetable marinara. Let the marinara slowly simmer (don’t actively boil the sauce at this stage) for about 15-20 minutes. If the sauce looks too thick add about ¼ cup of water to it in order to prevent scorching the bottom of the pan which will ruin the sauce. If a sauce scorches you will never get rid of the burned flavor. Might as well throw it out and go out to eat at this stage!

Ok, down the back stretch we fly! The sauce is through cooking. Turn the stove top off and remove the Dutch oven to a cool burner – off the heat. Remove the 2 stems from the basil leaves and the bay leaves if you can find them. Add coarsely chopped or julienned fresh basil leaves. Add the butter and stir to incorporate both into the roasted vegetable marinara. The butter helps mellow the acidity of the sauce without the need to add sugar to the sauce.

Add freshly grated parmesan cheese to the roasted vegetable marinara and stir to incorporate.

Tada! You’ve now made a fresh roasted vegetable marinara sauce to rival a restaurant chef.

Taste your marinara and adjust seasonings. If it needs more salt, add it, more pepper? Add it.

You’re done! At this point you can go on to use it in any dish you want or let it cool down and package it for later use.

I saved tons of quart jars from the old tomato sauce days and bought new rings and lids from the canning section in the store. The lids still have BPA on them, but they have a lower quantity of BPA because of a smaller surface area and also because I am not canning this sauce so the sauce never comes into contact with the jar lid.

And you didn’t use a single canned tomato product in the making! Congratulations!

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Label – Full Recipe

Nutritional Label – Single Serving

Click Images To Enlarge

SusieT’s Notes
The first night, I usually do a simple dinner, because there are so many steps to making this delicious Roasted Vegetable Marinara! I usually take some of the sauce and use it to poach eggs. This dish makes a great meatless main course for dinner or even breakfast or brunch but I will cover that in another post.

Poached Eggs In Roasted Vegetable Marinara
 We eat the poached eggs in roasted veggie marinara along with a salad and sometimes a little low carb garlic bread made with my Low Carb Focaccia Bread.  The Low Carb Biscuit toasted with cheese and olive oil and garlic powder works great too!

It’s a quick easy meal and feels like I’m eating a truly gourmet meal. Another way we enjoy Roasted Vegetable Marinara  the first night is to quickly toss it into our zucchini zoodles or zucchini pappardelli and add a handful of grated parmesan cheese.

Roasted Vegetable Marinara is loaded with vitamins and minerals. One single 1/2 cup serving gives you loads of B Vitamins, Vitamin C and Potassium. It's a nutrition super hero!

Oh my! Enjoy!


  1. OMG this looks amazing! However, going through your ingredients it does not say the measurement for the sun dried tomatoes - unless I am missing something?

  2. Gosh! Thank you SOOOO much for letting me know about my gigantor oversight. Muchas gracias!!! :)


Hey guys! Comments keep us going! Leave your thoughts, please? XOXO!