Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

roasted tomato sauce / pesto

Since I began college in late August, my life has changed greatly. My day begins at 3:45 in the morning when the alarm on my iPod lets out an incessant sound that could definitely wake the dead. Like a zombie, my arm pushes its way out of the covers; I immediately press “snooze” and pray that I’ll be able to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep. A couple minutes later, my ears hear the same obnoxious beeping noise that I tried silencing earlier. I grunt, turn off the alarm, and then, open my eyes. I stare into the darkness of my bedroom for a few minutes. I think nothing– until my mind reminds me that I have to get out of bed to get ready for school.

I throw the covers to one side and slowly crawl out of bed. I carefully feel my way through the darkness of the bedroom, grab my towel and clothing. Then, I look for the slippers that are sloppily placed near the foot of my bed. I sigh- my mind reminds me that they are always in the same place. Once I reach the door to my bedroom, I close my eyes while I flip on the light switch, open the door, and I make my way toward the bathroom. Once I walk toward the living room, I am greeted by a welcoming “meow” from each of our cats, and a “Hi, sweetie” from my mom.

roasted tomato sauce / pesto

After getting ready, having my morning cup of tea and something to eat (usually a bagel), my day begins to pass by rather quickly. Two-hour lectures seem as if they lasted twenty minutes, and without expecting it, my last class of the day has come to an end. Suddenly, I find myself walking across campus through crowds of other students, to catch the bus to the train station. On my fifty-minute bus ride, my stomach lets out a roar, and my mind can’t help but to think of food.

While waiting for the train home, I am still thinking about food. That’s when I being to flip through the pages of my recipe journal. Once a recipe catches my eye, I call it dinner.

Since I began college, that’s how my life has been . . . I simply wake up, commute to school, and think about what I want to make for dinner. It’s quite exciting, actually. Monday’s are especially exciting because I’ll usually have have enough time to make my way to the farmers’ market right after class.


A couple weeks ago, after coming back with a plethora of lovely cherry tomatoes and cipollini onions (along with other great finds) from the farmers’ market, I decided that dinner would be roasted cherry tomatoes, cipollini onions, and spaghetti tossed with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. After taking a bite out of the roasted tomatoes and slices of onion, my taste buds began singing.

All of a sudden, the flavor of the entire dish smacked me and told me that the roasted tomatoes and cipollini would make into a lovely sauce (or pesto).

I placed the tomatoes and onions in the blender, tasted for salt and pepper, then placed everything into a saucepan. Once the sauce heated up, I added in a bit of pasta water, swirled in a pat of butter, and spooned this lovely sauce over a bowl of warm spaghetti.

I called it dinner.

Roasted Tomato Sauce / Pesto Recipe
Yields About 2 Cups

At first, I was not sure of what to call this recipe. It can be considered a roasted tomato sauce and a tomato pesto. It is absolutely lovely spooned onto a mountain of your favorite pasta, or spread onto a sandwich with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. To make a cheesy sauce, add up to ½ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano to the sauce, followed by the pasta water and maybe even add in a small handful basil leaves (when blending in the food processor) for some more flavor. If you plan on using this on a sandwich, you can leave out the pasta water and maybe add in a few fresh herbs. This sauce / pesto is as versatile as it gets! Enjoy!

1 ½ lbs cherry tomatoes (washed, dried, and halved)
½ lb cipollini onions (about 6 onions)
Salt & pepper
½ tablespoon Olive oil

⅔ cup reserved pasta water (if being served with pasta; optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and blanch the cipollini for about 20 seconds, then placing them into ice water. Using a paring knife, make small cuts on the outer layer of the cipollini onions, and slide the outer layer off. Cut the onions into quarters.

Coat the onions with the olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the second baking sheet. Lightly shower with salt.

Bake everything for about 30-40 minutes, or until the tomatoes crinkle around the edges and the onions have browned and begun to caramelize.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, blend the cipollini and the tomatoes until smooth, about 10 seconds. Place the mixture in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, stir in enough pasta water to a desired consistency (I added about ⅔ cup of the reserved pasta water to the mixture, but you can definitely use less). Swirl in the butter, taste for salt (and add freshly cracked black pepper, if desired) and spoon the warm sauce onto a bowl of your favorite pasta. Enjoy!

**For a few variations, be sure to read the head notes**

Homemade Glazed Doughnuts
Quick Puff Pastry

Font Size: a A | print recipe Print Recipe | 36 Comments


  • Tweets that mention Roasted Tomato Sauce | Roasted Tomato Pesto | the sophisticated gourmet --
    October 3rd, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kamran Siddiqi and Kamran Siddiqi, Viviane BauquetFarre. Viviane BauquetFarre said: Fantastic Kamran! RT @ksiddiqi92: New Post on The Sophisticated Gourmet – […]

  • Prerna@IndianSimmer
    October 3rd, 2010

    Beautifully written! My mind actually was following all through out from your ipod’s alarm to your cats to your last lecture and your train back home. This is my first time around here and I’m so glad I clicked on someone’s tweet link leading me to your page.
    Wish I was as creative and enthusiastic about my work when I was in college :-)
    Good Luck to you! Looking forward to your next posts n then the next!

  • Jenn
    October 3rd, 2010

    Looks like a nice easy & simple tomato sauce, Kamran. I’m surprised at how little time is required! I’ll have to give this a shot sometime now that I have a working oven in my apt. :)

  • Cookin' Canuck
    October 3rd, 2010

    Your schedule made me tired, and I’m sitting on the couch reading your post! It sounds as though you have fallen into a good routine and still find time to do the things you love the most. This sauce looks fresh and comforting – the perfect way to end a full day.

  • Michelle (What's Cooking)
    October 3rd, 2010

    Yawn! 3:45 must come quickly once your head hits the pillow. And your mom is up that early too? Yikes! It is fun to follow your journey and I can’t wait for more of your stories, recipes and photos. I especially love the one of the tomatoes in the baskets – the depth of field is perfect!

  • Tessa
    October 3rd, 2010

    You wake up at an ungodly hour!! Hopefully next semester you won’t have to wake up so early. Love this recipe :) Maybe you’ll find some more goodies at the farmer’s market tomorrow.

  • KalynsKitchen
    October 3rd, 2010

    Wow, I’m impressed. When I was in college I don’t think I could have ever gotten up that early.

    Sounds like a lovely sauce!

  • Demetra Lambros
    October 4th, 2010

    This looks stunning, simple and delicious. Will defintely try it ASAP. So glad that Viviane posted this link. I am obsessed with recipes that use very few ingredients but that deliver such tanatlizing results. Thank you for the entire post… I love hearing about someone else’s waking moments, esp when they are the type who thinks about food. So I appreciated that segment tremendously. Another thing: When I went to college I didn’t know how to cook anything and I ate CRAP (gaining plenty of weight in the process). Now I am practically raising my kids in the kitchen so that they will have the tools when they go off to college (or whatever). Your post inspired me to think that my vision might actually come true one day. Thank you!!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    October 4th, 2010

    Gorgeous photos! What a beautiful place – the tomatoes look fabulous.

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking
    October 4th, 2010

    beautiful post! I love the glimpse into how your mind works :)

  • Carolyn
    October 4th, 2010

    That sauce sounds positively lovely spread on a sandwich with mozzarella and fresh basil!

  • kamran
    October 4th, 2010

    Jenn – It requires little effort too. It is extremely versatile and absolutely wonderful. It’s not what you’d expect a tomato sauce to taste like, but I find it very enjoyable!

    Demetra– thank you for the kind note! I hope it does come true one day. Just involve your kids in everything and don’t force them to eat anything that they may not want to eat. I’ve learned that if you involve them in cooking with a new ingredient, they are more likely to try it and enjoy it. If they don’t want to eat what is made, have the rest of the family make them jealous (It sounds mean, but it really isn’t) by saying something like: “Mmmm, this is absolutely delicious!! You should try some- you don’t know what you’re missing out on!”

  • Elizabeth
    October 4th, 2010

    It’s early now and I feel for you…as long ago I gave up on alarm clocks. Though the sound of a crying baby (or two) is not much better at letting you wake up slowly either. Sometimes I wish I was back at school just for the learning part, which I always enjoyed, but all the other stuff was high on my “hated” list. Papers, exams, teachers, waking early, long days….I feel for ya buddy!

    At least you still have your mind on what really brings you joy, food. Keep it up Kamran, you have a very unique way with it.

  • Lan
    October 4th, 2010

    can i just say that your day starts early! when i was a freshman, my days started around 11. and the fact that you’ve still energy at the end of the day to whip up dinner is amazing.

    this recipe looks divine, it’d be good served cold/room temp too… or slathered on a piece of toasted bread for an afternoon snack. hmmmm.

  • Lana @ Never Enough Thyme
    October 4th, 2010

    Wow, Kamran, 3:45?!? I vaguely remember my college days and rolling out of bed around 8:30 or so for my first class at about 10:00. What a dedicated student you are. And after all that, you still have the energy to cook dinner. Just amazing.

  • Jess
    October 4th, 2010

    Welcome back to this space, Kamran. Those tomatoes are so beautiful at every stage, raw, roasted, and blitzed into sauce. Thanks for this sweet peek into your day. It sounds like you’re figuring out how to do it all!

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen
    October 4th, 2010

    Just a great post and great pictures. Love it from the first one to the last!

  • Belinda @zomppa
    October 4th, 2010

    Love how you roasted these first – what a great way to relax from a crazy schedule!

  • ila
    October 5th, 2010

    just stumbled on your site recently, and all i can say is WOW. so young. so pretty. so YUMMY LOOKING!

  • Kathleen
    October 5th, 2010

    Absolutely delicious! I love making roasted tomatoes, such a different flavor. Sounds like your classes are going well, but that wake up time is more like coma time. Best wishes for another great day.

  • Kelly
    October 5th, 2010

    3:45!?! Guess you are not playing into the stereotype of college kids awaking close to noon (as err…I did). This sounds like the perfect nibble of relaxation in an otherwise crazy schedule. Gorgeous photos too btw.

  • Tina
    October 5th, 2010

    Hi Kamran-

    I am a new reader on your site and when I saw this recipe yesterday, I printed it out and ran into my kitchen.

    When I made your recipe, I added in parmesan cheese, basil, and a little of the leftover pasta water from the spaghetti I made, just as you suggested in the recipe. Once I put this sauce on the spaghetti I almost died! It was freakin delicious (can I use that language around here? ooops). Anyway, I have to say I am very impressed and I’m saving your recipe! Great job!

  • kamran
    October 5th, 2010

    Lan– Ooh! Love the toast idea!
    Jess– Thanks for the welcome back! I can’t leave this part of my life again. Being M.I.A is not fun, especially when I am cooking and baking a lot around this time of the year!
    Kelly– Thank you!
    Tina– thank you so much for your kind words! Glad you like the recipe! :)

  • anna (londonfoodieny)
    October 5th, 2010

    hey….i recognize those tomatoes!

  • kamran
    October 5th, 2010

    anna– Ha! Shh. I was too scared to take any photos when I brought the tomatoes for this post, so I compensated with a photo that I took last week! ;)

  • karen
    October 5th, 2010

    This looks insanely good and very simple. And the photos are gorgeous!

  • Thomas Andrew
    October 5th, 2010

    Sounds simple but yet so good! Nothing better than fresh tomatoes.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    October 7th, 2010

    What a beautiful recipe… That tomato sauce looks simple and perfect. Lovely!

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen
    October 8th, 2010

    3:45AM?! Holy geez…I went to film school which meant that most of my classes were mid-day or at night so we were all going to bed at 3:45AM! And I can totally relate to thinking about dinner all day. That’s my life every. Single. Day. Beautiful pictures too!

  • Helene
    October 8th, 2010

    You get up so early. That must be so hard. And you still cook at night. I hope that you enjoy your new College. Enjoy and come back with more delicious recipes!

  • wasabi prime
    October 13th, 2010

    Beautiful! And I love how you’re making it all work – school/life/food. Feed your mind, feed your body; everything else falls into place as long as you are truly satisfied.

  • Cindy Waffles
    October 15th, 2010

    great pictures! homemade tomato sauce is the best.

  • Magic of Spice
    October 15th, 2010

    Wonderful recipe and stunning photos :)

  • Nisrine
    October 17th, 2010

    I love a good tomato sauce; it beats all other sauces in my opinion. This roasted version makes me want some right now!

  • Kocinera
    October 21st, 2010

    That pesto sounds wonderful! I keep searching for a recipe with cipollini onions, and this looks perfect!

    I totally understand that whole snooze button issue. I tend to hit it a good five times each morning. :D

  • Shelvasha
    October 29th, 2010

    This is a great recipe, and it was so beautifully written and complimented b your awesome photography. In regards to college, dude, I feel your pain. I also find it difficult to cook since college has just turned my world upside down. Good luck with it, and keep the great recipes!

leave a comment

Subscribe by: EMAIL or RSS Feed