Tomato Vegetable Sauce
Disclosure: This post is a collaboration with Cans Get You Cooking. I received compensation, but – as always – all opinions are my own.
I love a good marinara pasta sauce, not only is it delicious and simple to make, but it also screams comfort and simplicity to me. My marinara version is more of a vegetable sauce since I love to add extra veggies and beans to the mix. This makes it even more nutritious and delectable; plus, if you puree the vegetable sauce, it adds a bit of stealth health to the meal. I promise, the kiddos will scarf it down without realizing that it’s chock full of extra nutrients! Voila! Everyone’s happy.
Meal Ideas for Vegetable Sauce
My vegetable sauce is amazing with your favorite pasta and some grated parmesan, but it also goes well with a variety of other meal ideas. Pair it with hearty whole grains such as farro, mix it with steamed vegetables like cauliflower, add it to roasted spaghetti squash or raw zucchini noodles, use it as a pizza sauce, or try it as a dipping sauce for garlic breadsticks or pita bread. Delicious!
What are some other ideas? Let me know your favorite fun ways to use my vegetable sauce!
Why Add Plants to Comfort Food Favorites? (AKA Vegetable Sauce!)
Classic tomato or marinara sauce is typically a simple recipe of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and basil. This is, obviously, super tasty. BUT – why not punch it up with some extra plant-based goodies, like vegetables and beans? My recipe includes carrots, which are a great source of vitamin A and potassium, and zucchini, which adds your daily dose of vitamin C. All whole vegetables have dietary fiber as well, which help regulate your GI tract.
I also like to add cannellini – aka white beans – to my vegetable sauce. If you puree the sauce, the beans add a creaminess and richness to the overall dish. Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, and plant-based protein as well as iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Here’s a fun fact – pairing the plant-based iron in beans with the vitamin C found in vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes helps our bodies absorb more of the plant-based iron!
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
I love using canned fruits and vegetables. In my view, cans are the key to making delicious comfort foods, whether you’re in the mood for a classic childhood favorite or something warm and soothing with a modern spin. One of my other favorite things about canned food is that it is always there for you – truly affordable and shelf-stable options!
Did you know that produce is picked at its peak of ripeness and canned within four hours? That seals in nutrition and flavor – and means that canned produce is always fresh! Canned foods provide year-round access to seasonal fruits and vegetables and essential nutrients, keeping foods fresh without the need for added preservatives or chemicals. I always have a wide variety of canned goods stocked in my pantry. They are an affordable, healthy, and tasty way to keep a variety of healthy foods on hand.
Canned vegetables, including green beans, carrots, and canned beans are easily used in this recipe. If you are worried about sodium, choose a low- or no-sodium brand and rinse your vegetables and beans before using.
Vegetable Sauce Storage
I always recommend making large batches of recipes such as my vegetable sauce. It is easy to make extra and freeze it, giving you months of vegetable sauce! Simply allow the vegetable sauce to cool completely then portion it out into containers and place it in the freezer. I like to use small portions so that I can easily grab one meal’s worth of vegetable sauce without defrosting a huge batch. Here’s a pro kitchen tip – always label your containers with the name and date of the food so that there is no question when you look later. The vegetable sauce can stay up to six months in the freezer.
Length of Time Qualitative Audit – Duration and Steps in Processing Canned and Fresh Produce. Can Manufacturers Institute, May 2014.
Miller, S. R., & Knudson, W. A. (2014). Nutrition and Cost Comparisons of Select Canned, Frozen, and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 8(6), 430-437. doi:10.1177/1559827614522942
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced (note: can use 14.5 ounce can of carrots, drained and rinsed)
- 1 zucchini diced
- Optional: 1 can 14.5 ounces green beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can 14.5 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 28- ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or gluten free tamari
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: ½ cup parsley and basil chopped
- In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onion, carrots, zucchini, and green beans and sauté until tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
- Add beans, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook ~1 minute.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and soy sauce and stir to blend. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-60 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Optional: Put all ingredients in high speed blender/vitamix or use an immersion blender and process till smooth.
- Serve garnished with parsley and basil.