Fresh Tomato Sauce
Pasta with tomato sauce is one of my favorite comfort food dishes. Over the years, I’ve played with different sauce recipes — those that simmer all day and become rich and bold in flavor and those that are more simple – fresh and light in texture. This sauce is my go to for many of my dishes and I think it’s a lovely combination of the two extremes. I make it by roasting plum tomatoes with just a sprinkle of brown sugar, salt and pepper. The result is a rich caramelized fruit, bursting with flavor. Then, I braise onions, garlic, carrots and celery for depth of flavor and then blend these ingredients together with a small amount of tomato paste and lemon juice. Finally, in an effort to sneak a little extra nutrition into every bite, I add a tablespoon of flaxseed meal. Sometimes, I’ll throw in a handful of spinach. It will darken the sauce to a brownish-red, but my family has gotten use to it.
When this sauce is finished it will have a red-orange color — my kids request it by asking for the “orange sauce.” This is due to the additional vegetables used in the cooking process. When I first started making it, I changed the tomato ratio and/or added more tomato paste to get closer to the expected red sauce, but now I have come to appreciate its color being indicative of all of the good-for-you extra ingredients. It will have a thick consistency so it sits well as a topping for ravioli or as a pizza sauce. You can opt to thin it by adding a 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. of water when you’re blending the sauce, but I like to keep it thick at this stage. Then, later, if I am using it with spaghetti, I just reserve half a cup of pasta water and toss that along with the sauce and the pasta to get even coverage. It’s a sweeter sauce (you can temper this by not adding the brown sugar when roasting the tomatoes) so I especially love adding fresh basil to it as well as a sprinkle of vegan parmesan and some crushed red pepper.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
This fresh tomato sauce is bursting with flavor and is filled with veggies for an extra nutritional boost. It's thick enough to used as a pizza sauce, or it can be combined with pasta water and used in a variety of pasta dishes.
- 8-10 ripe plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters
- 2 T. olive oil, divided into 1 T. portions
- 1 T. brown sugar
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 c. tomato paste
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 1 T. flaxseed meal
- 1 t. dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and cut your tomatoes in quarters lengthwise. Spread the tomatoes on a baking pan. Sprinkle 1 T. of olive oil and 1 T. of brown sugar on the tomatoes. Shift the tray forward and backward to distribute the olive oil and the brown sugar and to spread out the tomatoes. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan at 20 minutes and keeping an eye on the tomatoes to avoid charring.
- Step 2 While the tomatoes are roasting, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. When shimmering, add the onions and cook until wilted. I like to cook my onion on low-medium heat to avoid burning. Add the garlic, carrots and celery. Stir-fry for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Step 3 Place the roasted tomatoes and cooked vegetables in a blender, along with the tomato paste, lemon juice, flaxseed meal and herb seasonings. Blend until smooth. The sauce will have a red/orange color. If you’d like, throw in a handful of spinach leaves. This will darken the sauce, but it’s a nice way to get some extra vegetables into your diet.
- Step 4 Serve immediately or freeze for later use.
What’s in my kitchen that made this recipe even easier?
I’m always a little hesitant to recommend a higher priced item, but my Vitamix is my kitchen workhorse. It’s a phenomenal machine and I use it every day at least, whether it be for smoothies in the morning, blending soaked nuts for vegan cheeses or for making soups and sauce. I have an older version of this model and I’ve used it faithfully for over three years without incident.
Did you make this recipe? What did you think? Did you change anything?
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