In season: Smoky tomato sauce

Photo: Simon Lambert
Photo: Simon Lambert

Take advantage of tomatoes while they are tasty and plentiful, Alison Lambert writes.

Alison Lambert
Alison Lambert

I would not normally suggest cooking tomatoes and turning them into a sauce at this time of the year, but tomatoes are very cheap and very sweet at the moment. This sauce will accompany barbecue delights all summer long.

Smoky tomato sauce

Makes 500ml  


2 Tbsp olive oil
3 onions, sliced
2kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
handful fresh basil, stalks as well



Add the oil and onions to a large heavy-based pot. Cook until soft and transparent (5 minutes). Add the tomatoes, garlic and all the spices and cook for a further 5 minutes so the tomatoes and spices get juicy and fragrant.

Now add the vinegar, wine, water, sugar, basil, season with the salt and pepper and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes cook down to a thick pulp. Preheat the oven to 150degC.

Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and blend with a stick blender or food processor until a puree forms.

Pour all the mixture into a deep oven dish and bake in the oven until it reduces, thickens and darkens in colour.

This is how the sauce becomes smoky, a wonderfully thick and takes on a deeper colour. Finishing the sauce in the oven intensifies the flavour and it won't stick to the bottom of the pan.

This process can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Remove from the oven and cool.

Store in sterilised bottles or keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.


• Alison Lambert is one of the demonstrators at the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin on Saturday mornings.


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