Zero Waste Tomatoes & Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe

Hi, I’m Lauren and I covet tomatoes.

Now that we’ve got that out there in the open, let me explain.

This is one of the biggest changes we’ve made in our lives. We don’t buy canned tomatoes throughout the year. Living a low waste or zero waste lifestyle means eating locally sourced foods as much as possible. It means eating with the seasons. I absolutely love this concept and am 100% committed to it.

Partly because eating seasonally helps me live in the moment, and living in the moment makes me happy.

And partly because food that’s in season just tastes better. Period.

If you’re reading this post, you are likely interested in one or all of the above concepts.

Surely you’re interested in being happy? And food that tastes good? 😉

Which brings me to tomatoes.

Tomato Season is Here!

They are a seasonal treat which, since I have yet to start growing on my own, I must snatch up every red juicy morsel as often as my stomach can handle. They are quite acidic, after all! I’ve been known to give myself a stomach ache from too many fresh tomatoes. Worth it.

Each week I shop during tomato season, I bring home as many tomatoes as I can carry.

This can add up, moneywise.

If you’ve seen local, organic tomatoes at your farmers market, most likely you’ve been surprised by the high price per pound. Tomatoes do not come cheap.

Which brings me to my favorite part about tomato season: seconds tomatoes.

Save Money, Buy ‘Seconds’ Tomatoes

These are tomatoes that have made it to market but have minor imperfections. They might be slightly bruised, overripe, or not the right shape/size/color, etc. In short, these imperfections don’t usually impact taste, flavor, nutrition or texture so they are perfectly fine to eat.

Your vendor still wants to sell these. They will offer them at an extremely reduced price. Especially during the very end of the season.

If you’ve been searching for these tomatoes, and don’t see them, you will usually have to ask.

Most times they don’t put them on display. They keep them in a box or a crate to the side or under the stand. It’s so sad, these little orphan tomatoes. They are just as good!

So don’t be shy; ask. I ask every time. Before I splurge on a single $10 Brandywine or Black Krim, I ask if they have any seconds tomatoes.

And I’m always rewarded with some less than perfect picks that sell for $2/lb. Or less. Sometimes they’ll quote me the entire batch.

What to Do With ‘Seconds’ Tomatoes?

Because of their nature — overripe, slightly bruised, etc, I buy these with a very specific purpose in mind: tomato sauce.

Even though they’re damaged goods, turning them into tomato sauce brings out the best in their flavor and texture.

And it tastes damn good.

A note: You’ll want to plan to process seconds tomatoes for sauce the day you buy them. If you wait longer, they may get moldy. But use your best judgement depending on the condition they’re in when you get them home.

Roasting vs Stovetop Cooking

Two years ago, I was all about parboiling, peeling and stewing them on the stovetop.

Last year I was all about parboiling, peeling, and crushing them directly into jars to store.

This year, I’ve been roasting them, skin-on, low and slow in the oven. And omg. Just wow.

I’ve also been adding a generous portion of olive oil, salt and pepper to the mix. And sometimes basil, if I have it handy. I mean, come ON.

I really think there is a difference with roasting. Roasting tomatoes in the oven, low and slow, creates an incredibly rich sauce. It brings out their flavor better than you could do on the stove in the same amount of time.

And you don’t have to peel them.

So, I encourage you to try roasting your tomato sauce. Especially if you’ve brought home some seconds tomatoes that are so soft and juicy already. They’ve basically done most of the work for you already.

Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe

Makes about 3 pints of tomato sauce, can easily be doubled.

What You Need:

  • An oven
  • 4-5 pounds of tomatoes, any kind will do
  • A paring knife
  • A serrated knife
  • A casserole dish or baking pan
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Basil, optional

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Clean and core tomatoes.
  3. Slice in half, through the core, and then slice in thick wedges.
  4. Arrange tomato wedges in an even layer on the baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  6. Roast in the oven for at least an hour, stirring once halfway through.
  7. Let cool and store.


  • Tomato sauce will store perfectly in the freezer for at least a year.
  • For an extra rich flavor, turn the oven off after an hour and let the tomatoes cool in the oven.
  • Oven temps vary so you may need to adjust your temperature for the best results.
Zero Waste Tomatoes & Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe