Recipes

My Favorite Homemade Tomato Sauce

I’ve been meaning to post about making tomato sauce and I keep not doing it, so I now have photos from three different occasions to share! I love spaghetti and my grandma’s stovetop bolognese sauce used to be my favorite. Since I stopped eating meat (except fish) and I’m more health conscious, I’ve been trying to come up with my own versions. They vary a lot, but below are three of them!

For the first one, I was trying to sneak a lot of vegetables in. But then Ari wouldn’t even taste it anyway. Oh well, I liked it!

I used a couple of carrots, some celery, onion, garlic, and bell peppers (yellow and red, previously chopped and frozen).

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I heated olive oil in the pot…

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Turned the heat down…

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Sauteed the veggies…

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Added chickpeas (for protein, iron, and texture), tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste (I think just a spoonful of tomato paste, now I don’t remember whether I used the whole can! I’m awful at this!)…

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Added sprinklings of these seasonings: anise, thyme, oregano, and basil. Also a splash of balsamic vinegar. I think the anise and balsamic are kind of the secret ingredients that make a difference. We used to get a spaghetti sauce seasoning mixture from a local grocery store when we lived in Washington, and we finally figured out that what was special about it was the anise.

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Some leaves of kale went in there too…

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Then I pureed it!

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I didn’t photograph the final result. It was quite thick! I really liked it, though, and hardly noticed the extra vegetables, except that I think the bell peppers added a strong flavor.

 

For the second version, I used two cans of tomato sauce and two cans of chickpeas.

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We also went up to Washington and stocked up on the spaghetti sauce seasoning mix (with the anise!), so I used that.

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Salt and pepper…

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Balsamic and olive oil…

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The other secret ingredient! It’s amazing how many savory foods have sugar added to commercial versions but I don’t think about it when I’m cooking them at home. I only added a teaspoon or less, but it helps to round out the flavors.

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Some whole tomatoes, carrots, onion, kale, and bell peppers…

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And fake ground beef, added after the pureeing step! I liked the taste and texture and appreciated the added protein.

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Finally, the third version. A. had previously chopped up the sweet tomatoes from our garden for a sauce, so I used that.

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I didn’t include as many vegetables for this one. I chopped up some onion…

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Went the easy route for the garlic…

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Sauteed both in olive oil…

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I compared the nutrition facts of chickpeas and butter beans and I think I decided to just use the butter beans.

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Crushed red pepper…

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Added the sauce…

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There wasn’t enough, so I added a can of sauce, too…

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Turned the heat down…

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Added vinegar…

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Then a little brown sugar…

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The seasoning mix with anise…

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Salt…

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Another favorite surprise ingredient: nutritional yeast! Vegans often use it as a parmesan cheese substitute or to add “umami” flavor.

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Now this makes it not vegetarian, but I also sometimes sprinkle some fish sauce in there, too, for that “umami” flavor.

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Gotta get those leafy greens wherever you can, so I added kale…

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Then the can of butter beans…

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And another favorite salty ingredient: black olives!

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This time, instead of pureeing in the blender, I used a stick blender. Sometimes I like to do that, to keep it chunkier.

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At the end, I added a different kind of fake ground beef. I think I liked this one better than the other one I tried.

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I think A. took over at the end and I played with Ari outside…

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Ta da!

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Ari wouldn’t even taste the sauce. 😦 I loved it though!

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