Golden Tomato Sauce

I’m funny about tomatoes.

Vertical overhead image of a white bowl of homemade tomato sauce with a sprig of basil on top, on a gray surface with a whole yellow tomato, uncooked spaghetti, a few pieces of Parmesan cheese with yellowish rinds, and a wooden spoon, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

Not that I’m unique in that I prefer a juicy, ripe tomato over one that’s mealy and bland. But if I can’t get my hands on a really fabulous form of this fruit, I’ll likely opt out.

I blame my mom for this.

Vertical overhead image of a yellow tomato with green top, a wooden spoon, two pieces of aged Italian hard cheese, a white cloth, and a light green bowl of homemade tomato sauce with a fresh basil sprig on top for garnish.

When heirloom season came around each year, my mom would fill our ceramic produce bowl with oversized, multi-colored tomatoes. The more bizarre looking they were, the better they seemed to taste (and the more they took over our kitchen counter and scared our cats).

She would slice luscious Cherokee Purples over seeded toast with cream cheese and shaved smoked salmon. She would lay crimson striped beauties over smoked turkey and avocado for an epic afternoon sandwich.

Though I’ve never been an avid enough tomato-enthusiast to douse one with salt and pepper and eat it solo, I’ve always been drawn to the vividly colored, funky-shaped versions of these fruits.

Even when they’re out of season.

Vertical closely cropped overhead image of a large light green bowl of homemade tomato sauce, with a sprig of fresh basil on top, on a gray surface with a white cloth, two pieces of Parmesan cheese with yellow rinds, and a sprig of thyme.

Haven’t you ever felt like crushing a BLT in the winter? No? Just me?

I always know that it won’t be nearly as satisfying as it would be in the summertime when these fruits of the vine are at their peak of flavor, but sometimes I have the hankering nonetheless. Tender Romas, vine-ripened varieties, and even Beefsteaks just won’t cut it.

I’ve found that my best use for those non-summertime tomatoes is transforming them into a quick, garlicky sauce speckled with fiery red pepper flakes.

Even if they’re slightly bruised and on their way out, I can still produce a pretty solid marinara that – when slapped onto a flatbread with fresh herbs or tangled with pasta and cheese – has the succulent, acidic, fresh punch I’m after.

So you can imagine how subbing a perfectly plump summer tomato into this scenario is like putting on glasses for the first time.

I’m familiar with meaty deep-red heirlooms, as those are my mom’s favorite. But golden tomatoes opened up a whole new world for me.

Vertical oblique overhead image of a large white bowl of tomato sauce topped with a sprig of fresh basil for garnish, on a gray surface with a white cloth, two hunks of hard cheese with yellowish rings, and a whole yellow tomato with a green top.

I discovered that not only were these sunshine-hued characters screaming with sweetness, they carried a citrusy note as well.

Mini SunGolds, a baby cherry type, seem to be prevalent at my local grocery store year-round, but I was looking for something heartier that I could blanch, peel, and crush over a bowlful of pasta perfection.

With the arrival of the summer heat, golden tomatoes (very similar to heirloom yellows) lined the shelves of my local produce market, and I couldn’t gather them up fast enough.

These yellow morsels had a thin, tender skin and boasted less acidity than the reds. I wanted to bring out their tart citrus undertones, and I knew delicate lemon basil was the herb for the job.

Though I wasn’t able to find it at my regular grocery store, snagging it from the local farmers market, where diverse herbs are found aplenty, was a cinch.

For another gentle hit of lemon, a sprinkle of fresh thyme did the trick. Lemon thyme would be even better, for an extra citrusy punch.

Horizontal overhead image of a white ceramic bowl of yellow tomato sauce with a sprig of fresh basil for garnish, on an off-white surface with a white cloth, a wooden spoon, a stack of uncooked pasta, a few hunks of Parmesan cheese with yellowish rinds, and a yellow tomato with a green top.

Yellow tomatoes are known for releasing ample juice when cooked, and they can produce a marinara that’s on the watery side. I let them simmer (lids on for safety) for half an hour to deepen their flavor and thicken the sauce.

A little Parmesan also binds everything together. All you need is Parm. I love that Beatles song…

I tossed my golden marinara masterpiece with linguine and fresh goat cheese, and was quickly treated to a round of applause by my noodle-obsessed husband.

I didn’t tell him it was really the tomatoes that deserved the standing O.

Print
Vertical closely cropped overhead image of a white ceramic bowl of homemade golden tomato sauce topped with a sprig of basil for garnish, on a white countertop.

Golden Tomato Sauce


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 cup 1x

Description

Need a change from regular red marinara? This golden tomato sauce is vibrant, sweet, and citrusy, thanks to a touch of delicate lemon basil.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 medium golden tomatoes, cored
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh lemon basil leaves (or substitute regular basil), thinly sliced, divided

Instructions

  1. Cut a small “X” on the bottom of each tomato.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously season it with salt. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.
  3. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and blanch them for 1 minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the ice bath. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel away and discard their skins. Quarter each tomato and discard any watery seeds.
  4. In a medium saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and swirl to coat. Add the garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture begins to bubble and simmer.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, and add the Parmesan and half of the basil. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  7. Using a potato masher, crush and break down the tomatoes. Just before serving, stir in the remaining basil and season to taste with additional salt. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: tomato sauce, marinara, golden tomatoes, pasta

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep, Core, and Score

First, gather all of the ingredients that you will need for this recipe. Wash the herbs, remove the thyme leaves from the stems, and chop the basil. Mince the garlic and the shallot.

Horizontal overhead image of a golden tomato with a green top, minced garlic and shallow, a few sprigs of thyme, and a hunk of Parmesan cheese with a yellowish rind, on a blonde wood cutting board.

Using a sharp knife, move in a circular motion around the cores of the tomatoes. Once the top of each is carved into a circle, use the tip of the knife to pry out the cores.

Four golden tomatoes are arranged on a wooden cutting board with the blossom side up, with X's scored into the bottom of the skin on each, and a knife to the left of the frame.

Cut a small “x” on the bottom of each tomato. Scoring them like this will help loosen their skins, and make them easier to peel once they’ve been blanched.

You can also core the tomatoes after they’re blanched, if you prefer.

Step 2 – Prepare Ice Bath and Blanch

Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously season it with salt. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water.

Four golden tomatoes are being blanched in hot, steaming water in a large cooking pot.

Drop your cored and scored produce into the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute.

Horizontal closely cropped overhead image of four golden tomatoes that have been blanched, chilling in an ice bath in a large clear glass bowl, on a gray speckled surface.

Remove each with a slotted spoon and add it to the ice bath.

Step 3 – Peel

Horizontal image of a yellow tomato on a cutting board that has been partially peeled, with a sprig of fresh basil in the background.

Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skins.

Closeup of quartered cooked yellow tomatoes in a frying pan with some liquid.

Cut into quarters and discard any watery seeds.

Step 4 – Cook

In a medium saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and swirl to coat the pan.

Closeup horizontal image of minced garlic and shallots sauteeing in oil in a nonstick frying pan.

Add the garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until very fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the mixture starts to bubble and simmer.

Quartered peeled golden tomatoes in a large nonstick frying pan with sauteed garlic and shallots, and dried herbs.

Reduce the heat back to low, add the grated cheese and half of the basil, and cover the pot.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of yellow tomatoes cooking in a mixture of oil and minced garlic and shallots, topped with chopped fresh herbs and grated cheese, in a large nonstick frying pan on a beige background.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Step 5 – Crush and Add Basil

Using a potato masher, crush and break down the tomatoes. For a smoother sauce, you could also use an immersion blender for this.

Horizontal closeup image of a metal potato masher being used to break apart yellow tomatoes in liquid in a nonstick frying pan.

Just before serving, stir in the remaining basil and season to taste with additional salt if necessary.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped closeup of a sauce made with yellow tomatoes topped with chopped fresh herbs, being stirred with a pink rubber spatula in a nonstick pan, on a gray surface.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Here Comes the Sun

Golden tomato sauce is far more than a beaming ray of sunshine in a bowl. It’s a sweet, lush answer to bountiful summer produce.

Don’t let this glorious seasonal gift pass you by. In fact, double up on the recipe, freeze it in batches, and let this fresh tomato concoction ease your cool weather blues when you’re missing margaritas and flip-flops.

Vertical closely cropped overhead image of a white ceramic bowl of homemade golden tomato sauce topped with a sprig of basil for garnish, on a white countertop.

Now that you’ve (gleefully!) loaded up on too many tomatoes, here some more of our favorite ways to put these goodies of the produce world to good use:

What are your moves when it comes to making a magnificent marinara? Dried Italian herbs? Roasted garlic? White wine? Share your sauce secrets in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on July 20, 2012. Last updated: September 20, 2019 at 18:35 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

6 thoughts on “Golden Tomato Sauce”

  1. We have a very similar food aesthetic which is why I like your posts. We are growing yellow tomatoes and waiting now (hoping) for the next batch. The heat has wrecked our season a bit. We had so many right before it got really hot. I would love golden tomato sauce.

    • I know, this heat has been something and I’m sorry to hear it’s been rough on your garden! Hopefully with all the rain we’ve been getting this last week, the tomatoes will be able to revive.

  2. I don’t do the CSA because I’m single but now I’m thinking about looking for 1-3 people to share in one. What I do have going for me is an organic Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning in the parking lot of a church next door to my building. Not many people in my building are really in to cooking like I am. Today, I bought more tomatoes (didn’t see any yellow ones today – I have seen purple heirlooms and other colors in past weeks), okra, Kirby cucumbers and SC freestone peaches. Last week I bought tomatoes, raw honey, peaches and sweet red/purple onions. Gazpacho was definitely in order. I make it at least once a week when good tomatoes are in season. Wonder what yellow Gazpacho would be like? Wonder if toast and Golden Sauce would be good with Chevre?

  3. Gorgeous! Your pictures make me want to just take a giant bite. I adore this year’s traveling adventures, but I sure do miss fresh veggies. We’re in the southern hemisphere right now, too, so no summer produce for us. Enjoy those golden little juicy jewels. Thanks for the digital serving : )

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