a lovely tomato

“I absolutely will not ever never eat a tomato”; Charlie & Lola

Tomatoes are not revered in our house (except by me). The main tomato hater has passed his tomato hating genes down to the next generation, and in turn they will not eat tomatoes (they are also encouraged by the Charlie & Lola episode ‘I absolutely will not ever never eat a tomato” which is unfortunate).

Unless, of course, they eat one to try and make the main tomato hater eat one. They had a bit of a deal going on – “you eat one I eat one” kinda thing. But it was getting a bit mean. The main tomato hater really does hate tomatoes. With one exception….unless they’re in a tomato SAUCE. Hence this recipe.

Personally – I can’t understand not loving them. I can understand people not liking a plasticky, fake tomato with no taste. But I cannot understand not falling in love with a beautiful, red, sweet, juicy tomato. Paired with a basil leaf, a dollop of good oil and a chunk of parmesan or goats cheese – it’s the perfect fast food.

Perhaps it’s because such things are hard to come by these days. I might be showing my age, but tomatoes definitely tasted better when I was a kid.

Fratelli Fresh in Sydney are reliable tomato sellers, and always have a good range of whatever’s in season. I normally buy truss, roma or Johnnie’s love bites, depending on what the recipe calls for, and is in season. Lookout for tomato specials – often you can find very ripe tomatoes available at a much cheaper price. if you’re planning on cooking up a big batch, try and find yourself some super ripe bargains.

Ultimately, home grown tomatoes would be the creme de la creme. I tried to plant some last year, but didn’t do my research and missed the right time of year.

Anyway. Regardless of how you procure your tomatoes, you need a good, basic sauce recipe to put them into. I like an adaptable sauce recipe – one that can be used across pizza, pasta, burgers and steak. This one does it for me. I’ve cooked tomato sauce recipes from Pete Evans, Jill Dupleix, Katie Quinn-Davies, Donna Hay and Jamie Oliver. My version takes bits from each recipe and incorporates them into one.


Prep time – about half an hour. Cook time – allow about 1.5 hours. It will make several cupfuls – depending on how thick/runny you like your sauce. If you were making it as an accompaniment to steak or for a hamburger sauce for instance, you’d want it to be very thick. Making this sauce is a good Sunday activity for me. This recipe scales well – you could double it and make a big batch. Then freeze some for the nights you just cannot be bothered cooking. I prefer more salt and less sugar in my recipe – if you like sweetness then add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar into the mix.


Tomatoes – about 10 fresh, very ripe truss tomatoes (or whatever tomato you like. If using baby tomatoes, reduce the roasting time)
Herbs – torn basil, thyme sprigs & oregano (a good handful of each of these)
Garlic – about 4 or 5 cloves, skin on, not chopped
Red wine vinegar - about 1/4 cup
Cumin - 1 teaspoon
Dijon mustard – 1 teaspoon
Olive oil – of course extra virgin (there you go Dad)
Salt & freshly ground pepper

What to do

Getting ready. First heat your oven to around 180 degrees. Cut the tomatoes either in half (if they’re small) or in quarters if they’re big. Take out the corey bits. I leave the skin on, but if you’re a purist you could remove it first.

Baking. Put them into a baking dish, cut side up. Sprinkle the herbs, salt & pepper, garlic and generously drizzle some olive oil on top. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, uncovered. The house should start to smell amazing after about 10 minutes.

On the stove. Once they’re done, put the tomatoes into a saucepan – something gutsy as they’re going to be on the stove for a while. Add the red wine vinegar, mustard and cumin, and give it all a good stir. Add salt & pepper. Increase the heat so the sauce comes to the boil, then reduce down and simmer for an hour (or longer if you want it thicker). Make sure you taste during the simmering process – it may need more S&P.

Ready to rock. When you consider the sauce done (after 45 minutes – 1 hour), give it a mash with a fork or potato masher – to break down the remaining chunks of tomato. I guess you could puree it, if you like a really smooth sauce, but I’ve never felt the need.

saucy sauce

Straight off the stove and ready for eating.

tomato sauce

Ready to serve. On this occasion, some hungry triathletes.

I use this as a pasta and pizza sauce, kids dinner and as a side to either sausages or meat. Sauce it up.