The most flavourful sauce ever!
I’m a big fan of smoky foods, particularly when those foods are fruits or vegetables. My smoked tomato gazpacho is a case in point, as is my smoked watermelon salad. When asked to produce a smoked tomato pasta sauce, I was more than eager to oblige and I’m super happy I did because this is ridiculously delicious and probably the best-tasting sauce I’ve ever made – and it’s vegan! One of my taste testers enthusiastically commented that “it’s like having my favourite food around a campfire!” I’m off to the farmers’ market right now to buy a bushel of tomatoes to smoke, chop and tuck into the freezer. I suggest you consider doing the same thing. Oh – and if you’re wondering about the smidge of baking soda in my tomato sauce, don’t skip it as it is the perfect neutralizer for the tomatoes’ acidity and makes for a smoother, richer, tastier sauce. I promise.
- 10 large Roma (plum) tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons (10 mL) olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 button mushrooms, chopped small
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) baking soda
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) each chopped fresh parsley and basil
- grated parmesan cheese, to garnish
- additional chopped fresh basil, to garnish
Other equipment: 2 cups wood chips and heavy duty foil, for smoking tomatoes.
- Place wood chips in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak 30 minutes.
- Drain wood chips and place on a large sheet of heavy duty foil. Fold the foil to seal on the top and both ends to make a long, flat package of wood chips.
- With the tip of a knife, pierce the top of the foil packet all over.
- Place the foil packet directly on top of one burner of your gas grill (underneath the grill rack that holds the food; I use the burner at the front).
- Turn all burners of the grill onto high heat and let them pre-heat until the wood chips begin to smoke.
- Once the packet has begun to smoke, turn off all the burners EXCEPT the one that has the wood chips on top of it and place halved tomatoes, cut sides up, over the unlit burners, as far away from the lit burner as possible.
- Keep tomatoes on the grill until the wood chips have stopped smoking (about 30 minutes).
- While tomatoes are smoking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat until ready to add the smoked, diced tomatoes.
- Gently transfer the smoked tomatoes to a baking sheet and bring indoors. Peel and discard the skin (it will slip off the tomatoes easily) then chop the flesh into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces. Add to the saucepan with the onions, garlic and mushrooms.
- Return the pot to medium heat and add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, baking soda, parsley and basil. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remover pot lid and simmer for 10 minutes more while you cook the pasta.
- Serve sauce over hot cooked pasta, garnished with parmesan and chopped fresh basil.
Makes 6 servings of sauce (leftover sauce freezes beautifully).