Well, hello there! Welcome to my first post. I see you’ve already met my better halves (fifths?) so let me introduce myself! I’m Lily, I drink a lot of seltzer, I’m currently training for my first half-marathon, and I love a good mustard-colored anything.
Like everyone and their barista, I did a Whole30 last summer and loved it. Even though I didn’t continue that method of eating (I ended up cutting meat out of my diet shortly thereafter), my big takeaway was how pervasive sugar is in store-bought foods. Once you start reading labels (some things you can’t unsee, bro), it’s really easy to see why so many people are addicted to the stuff.
Now don’t get me wrong; I love my sugar, but I like to eat it on my own terms– none of this insidious, lurking in the shadows business. I’d much rather knowingly enjoy ice cream or cake or one of the several candy bars my boyfriend stockpiles for me in my fridge–his love language is gifts, so he often brings me a Twix much like a household cat will bring you a dead mouse or bird.
Back on task! Some huge culprits of sneaky sugars are sauces, condiments, and dressings…. like, what? Why? V. rude and unnecessary. Something so simple like a jar of tomato sauce can have up to 12 grams of sugar per serving. Seriously, sugar… get off my pasta and into my brownies. And don’t even get me started on weird preservatives (spoiler alert: there’s a lot). But don’t fret! There’s no need to empty your cabinets and never buy packaged food again, but some simple homemade replacements can be a nice way to incorporate healthier options a little at a time.
So today, let’s say a big, resounding F-U to bottled marinara sauce and make our own because it’s super easy and way more delicious. And while we’re at it, let’s throw some veggies in there because we can and it’ll make our moms happy.
Now, this sauce is highly customizable. If you don’t have or don’t like something I’ve listed, use whatever vegetables you have on hand that sound appealing (hello peppers, squash, spinach, etc). My cooking style is also very easy-going (read: often improvised), so all measurements are pretty approximate (I say unless you’re baking, anything goes). I like this sauce to feel a little rustic and even emulate the texture of a bolognese (minus the meat), but if that’s not your bag, feel free to blend it up nice and smooth.
This simple sauce is full of healthy ingredients that add great depth of flavor. Add this to your pasta, zoodles, eggplant parm, baked ziti, lasagna, pizza, you name it! There will be plenty left over, so once your sauce is completely cooled, transfer it to an airtight jar or container and store it in your fridge or freezer for next time. And since you ate all your veggies, go make Shirlee’s Banana Cupcakes for dessert. Bon appétit!
Veggie-Loaded Tomato Sauce
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1.5 – 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 15 min
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large or 2 small carrots
- 1 large celery stalk
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Splash of red wine (optional)
- 1 cup unsalted vegetable broth
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Italian seasoning to taste
- Fresh basil
- Mince the garlic and dice the onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms.
- In a large pot over low heat, sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil and a pinch of salt (about 5 minutes).
- Add all diced vegetables and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Once veggies soften, pour in vegetable stock and a splash of red wine (or a glug… or none… up to you!).
- Add tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. Give it a good stir until everything is incorporated.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Start conservatively– you can always build as you go.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble, lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for roughly 1.5 hours.
- To finish, add some fresh chopped basil.
Asterisk Alley (Jo, I love this!)
- * You certainly don’t need to let it cook for a full two hours, but the longer you can let it simmer, the better your results will be.
- **If the sauce starts to seem a little thick, add a cup of water and let it continue to cook down. You can do this a couple times if necessary.
- *** If you do use red wine, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but make sure it’s something you’d be willing to drink 🙂 that’s the rule when cooking with wine.
- **** I play it real fast and loose with “large” and “small veggies– just go with what you have and what you like… which is true of this entire recipe really. Enjoy!