Submitted by Robert Sturtevant of East Bridgewater, MA, who grows his own tomatoes for this recipe in his 1000 square foot garden (way to go, Robert!) and receives his copy of Edible Boston in his mailbox as a subscriber.
Two standard household sheet pans, about 13" X 18"
Two wire cooling racks
Large and small bowl
Sharp knife or knives
Food processor or blender
Large, fresh, unblemished tomatoes (any variety, or a combination, is fine. Depending on the size, you will need anywhere from around 8 to as many as a dozen. Figure that you want to fill each sheet pan with halved tomatoes cut-side down on a single layer)
One large, or two small onions
As many garlic cloves as you prefer
Fresh habenero or other hot chile (optional)
Garlic paste (optional)
Anchovy paste (optional, but try it once before you decide!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine (something you'd drink, not cooking wine)
Good quality vinegar, sometimes I use a little cider and balsamic both
Salt & pepper
Pinch or two of sugar
Plenty of fresh thyme
Fresh chiffonade cut basil, enough for a generous amount on each serving.
First, line sheet pans with foil. Place wire cooling racks on top of the foil-lined sheets. Craft a small "box" out of foil about 4" X 6". Make it sturdy and leak-proof. This will hold the onions and garlic. Adjust the size to accommodate the amount you have. Place it in the middle of one of the racks.
Next, halve the tomatoes lengthwise and core the stem, a small V-notch where the white part is. Place the halves in a large bowl as you go.
Preheat your oven to its highest temperature, or around 550°.
Chop the onions coarsely (quartered and layers separated is fine). Add them to the tomatoes. Throw in the garlic cloves, and halved, cored, chili(s) if you are including them.
In a separate bowl, except for the basil, mix all the other ingredients together, having stripped the thyme leaves. You need to use common sense with the ratios. Providing amounts is impractical because of the variations in sizes of tomatoes and so on. But basically what you want is around a cup, more or less, of a somewhat viscous liquid that will, to some degree, stick to the tomato skins and onions and garlic. Pour this mixture over everything. Mix gently with a large utensil until fully coated. Using cooking tongs, place each tomato half, cut-side down, on the cooling racks. Then place everything else in the foil box you made. Add to the box as much remaining liquid as is reasonable.
Place the racks in the oven. Time varies. They are done when the skins begin to look brown and black in some places. Some of the skins will blacken considerably. This is good! If the two sheets appear to be cooking unevenly, switch them.
Remove the sheets when you feel the tomatoes are fully roasted. The edges of the onions may brown up a little too.
In a food processor or blender grind the ingredients from the foil box to a near fine consistency and pour into a bowl large enough to hold all the tomatoes. Grind the tomatoes (more than one batch may be needed depending on the size of your processor or blender) very coarsely. One or two pulses often are enough. Add to the other ingredients and stir together. It's hot enough to serve immediately over your already-cooked favorite pasta, or you can pour it in a large sauce pan to keep it warm on the stove.
Serve with good fresh grating cheese and the basil sprinkled on top.