A spicy homemade Arrabbiata Sauce made from roasted fresh tomatoes. Perfect for homegrown tomatoes, take your pasta dinner to the next level!
What a lovely, sunny summer it has been, (though I type in the middle of a thunderstorm and torrential rain!). All that sunshine has infused home-grown tomatoes with the sweetest of flavours this year, reminding us what tomatoes are supposed to taste like, (rather than the plastic-wrapped excuses for tomatoes we buy in supermarkets in December).
If you grow your own, you will be familiar with the annual cycle: waiting, waiting and more waiting for that first tomato to be ripe enough to pick, (and that delicious first bite that's the best tomato taste of the year), followed a month or so later by every single other tomato on the stalk ripening at exactly the same time so that you have piles and piles of tomatoes you just can't keep up with.
Well, to preserve and enhance their lovely sweetness and flavour, and to have some devilishly tasty arrabbiata sauce on standby for a quick pasta supper, I've just made a big batch of this lovely roasted sauce.
It keeps brilliantly in the freezer so you can still have a taste of that tomato-trapped sunshine in the depths of winter.
Roasting the tomatoes rather than just cooking this in a frying pan really brings out the flavours: their natural sugars start to caramelise, and their juices infuse with the roasted garlic, chilli, oregano and thyme which give this sauce its lovely rich flavour.
What you need to make your homemade Arrabbiata Sauce
Fresh tomatoes This sauce is a brilliant way to use up a glut of home-grown tomatoes, or when you spot a pile in the supermarket bargain section. You can use any fresh tomatoes at all - cherry, salad, beef, plum, or a mixture of all of them. I often throw in a few slightly under-ripe ones too when it gets to the end of tomato season, and the roasting process really mellows and sweetens their flavour.
Garlic Don't hold back with the garlic, chuck it in like an Italian grandmother. I do like to use fresh garlic here, but the ready-chopped stuff from a jar or tube is fine too. (Just be warned that your kitchen will smell incredible when you put these in the oven, and you will feel hungry all day long, sorry!).
Olive oil Use just a standard olive oil for roasting, extra virgin doesn't stand up well to high temperatures. But if you want to add some extra oomph to your sauce, stir through some extra virgin olive oil just before serving or drizzle it over your pasta - rich and peppery heaven!
Chilli Flakes I like my arrabbiata, (literally 'angry' sauce), nice and spicy - but do add as much or as little chilli as you like, or leave it out completely for a simple tomato sauce. Remember that the fiery heat of chilli is always tamed a little in the freezer, so you can afford to be a bit more liberal than you think with the crushed chillies!
Basil Fresh basil makes a real difference to the finished sauce. Remember to pick the leaves off the stalks just before adding them to the sauce, you're only using the leaves here.
Oregano & thyme There are very few dried herbs that I think are actually worthwhile but these two are perfect here. Oregano, the famous 'pizza herb' and thyme, a tomato's best friend.
Balsamic vinegar A slug of balsamic gives a lovely, rich edge to this sauce. If you don't have any to hand just leave it out - other vinegars would be too sharp.
Sugar I always use a little sugar when cooking tomatoes, just to take the edge off the acid. You can use any type of sweetener if you prefer - I sometimes use a squirt of date syrup, brown sugar or agave instead.
A blender or food processor will make light work of blitzing this arrabbiata into a silky sauce - seeds, skins and all. If you're using a hand blender in a saucepan you will need to keep going for at least a minute or two to get a similar consistency.
When I'm making this sauce in big quantities for the freezer, I will get out my Magimix Pro Food Processor* which has three different sized bowls for any size job. It really is a beast and makes a superb job of a sauce like this. (This one was a gift for review from Magimix some years ago, but I’m a big fan and haven’t ever been paid to say so!)
Or for smaller quantities I'll use a hand blender in a saucepan - mine is this Dualit model* which also has a chopping bowl and whisk, both of which I use a lot.
How to use your homemade Arrabbiata Sauce
This makes a wonderful pasta sauce, but I also use it in all sorts of other ways:
- As a pouring sauce over vegetables or potatoes
- Made into a creamy tomato risotto with arborio rice, (set aside a few of the roasted tomatoes to serve on top)
- As a base for homemade pizzas with vegan cheese (I like half-and-half 'Sheeze' mozzarella and vegan cheddar) and all your favourite toppings
- In hot sausage wraps with vegan sausages, baby spinach, and some vegan cheese.
- In place of passata or chopped tomatoes in any of your favourite chilli or stew recipes.
What will you do with yours?
How to store your homemade pasta sauce
I usually freeze this sauce in small portions then just defrost in the microwave when I need it. As I mentioned above, the spice is tamed a bit in freezing so taste and add a little more chilli if required.
If you want to store it in jars, you will need to sterilise them before using and then follow canning instructions to make them safe to store. I like these step-by-step photo instructions from Spruce Eats.
You can also keep the sauce in the fridge for 4-5 days in airtight containers.
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
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Roasted Tomato Arrabbiata Sauce
- 1 kg fresh tomatoes
- 2-3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed (or 2 tsp ready-chopped garlic or garlic purée)
- 1-2 tsp dried crushed chillis / chilli flakes (depending how hot you like your arrabbiata!)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 20 g fresh basil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F / gas mark 6.
- Halve the tomatoes, (or quarter them if using larger tomatoes), and tip into a large bowl. Add the garlic, chilli, oregano, thyme, salt, a generous grind of black pepper, and oil, then toss together until the tomatoes are evenly coated with the oil and seasonings.
- Tip into a large roasting tin or baking tray and turn over the tomatoes so that they are skin-side down / cut-side up as pictured above. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until they have released their juices and are turning brown.
- Remove from the oven, and carefully spoon the tomatoes and all their juices and flavourings into a blender, food processor, or large saucepan/bowl if using a hand blender.
- Add with the basil leaves (discard the stalks), balsamic vinegar and sugar.
- Blitz until completely smooth, (this may take up to a minute), then serve with pasta or divide into tubs or bags to freeze in individual portions.