Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce


You might recall my highlight of Myra and Marea Goodman’s amazing Vegan Blackberry Bran Muffins from their new cookbook,Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone. Well I have another two-part recipe to share that shows off the savory side of this Earthbound Farm family. The Heirloom Tomato Sauce below was created to accompany their recipe for Seared Polenta.

Seared Polenta with Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce - vegan recipe by Earthbound Farms founder, Myra Goodman

Beyond the fabulous recipes, Myra loves to share stories with the food that help to connect readers with what they are about to create. Even this simple heirloom tomato sauce has it’s own tale:

Straight from the Earth by Myra Goodman and Marea GoodmanGrowing up in New York City, I had tomatoes that were hard, cold, tasteless wedges on iceberg lettuce salads. The first time I saw, smelled, and tasted a vine-ripened heirloom tomato, I was beside myself with joy. Miraculous! It took growing and having more heirloom tomatoes than we could possibly eat fresh to enable me to cook them into a sauce.

Homemade heirloom tomato sauce turns the simplest pasta night into a gourmet dinner. I am so lucky because my husband, Drew, has become an avid tomato gardener, and he makes huge batches of sauce that we freeze in zip-top bags so we can enjoy the taste of peak summer all year long.

This version is the Goodman classic sauce with a little extra kick from red pepper flakes to spice it up a bit. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Marea’s delectable seared polenta cakes. If you plan on doubling or tripling this recipe, you’ll want to peel the tomatoes first (see Note). Otherwise, you can do what I usually do, and use tongs to pick the skins out of the sauce as it simmers. Marea doesn’t mind the skins, and just leaves them in her sauce. The choice is yours.

Special Diet Notes: Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo and generally top food allergy-friendly.

Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe from Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone, Chronicle Books, 2014. Reprinted with permissions. This sauce was created for the authors' Seared Polenta recipe, but will also be delicious atop pasta, eggplant, or other seasonal vegetables.
Serves: 4
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for the baking dish
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 lbs (2.7 kg) ripe heirloom tomatoes (quartered if you are not peeling them)*
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup (25 g) packed chopped fresh basil
  1. Heat the oil in a large, nonreactive pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens but does not brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, cover the pot, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes to break up the chunks. Add the tomato paste and ½ teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency, 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Add the basil and simmer for 2 minutes more.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week, and frozen for up to 1 year.
Peeling Tomatoes: Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add four or five tomatoes to the pot and cook until the skins begin to wrinkle and split, 30 to 90 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Let the water in the pot return to a boil, and continue blanching the remaining tomatoes in small batches. If the water in the bowl gets warm, add more ice. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off the skins with your fingers; they should come off easily.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


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  2. Eleanor van Rooyen on

    As an allergy sufferer I ‘ m delighted to have stumbled across godairyfree.org!
    Comment: l pack my 3 tierd steamer full of ripe rinsed tomatoes. Convenient way of peeling tomatoes…. I steam them at least 30 minutes,leave them to cool down so that l can comfortably handle them ( or proceed with the skin removal hours later). I use kitchen scissors to snip into the tomato at the stem end,pulling out the end at the same time. I collect the peeled tomatoes in a 10 liter bucket so that l can liquidize them with my stick blender before proceeding with the sauce.
    Greetings from sunny South Africa!

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