Nutritionally Sneaky Tomato Sauce

The next time you’re feeling lazy/naughty and the only thing you want for supper is spaghetti (with a salad of course), this sauce will help you satisfy the comfort-food craving while supplying you with some of the healthy protein that you need.  This recipe is for a huge amount of sauce, since you know how fond I am of cooking once and eating twice (or eight times in this particular case). I usually make a vat of this stuff, doling most of it into small tubs that then get stuck in the freezer for those week nights when I just don’t have the time/inclination/audacity/imagination/stamina/cohones to cook (anyone else thinking Mad Libs?).

Grab a glass of your favourite beverage and pop on The Supremes‘ Greatest Hits — off we go!

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil (or 2 small glugs) or coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (or about 3 inches of garlic paste)
  • 3 large cans tomatoes (crushed, whole, eviscerated, whatever)
  • up to 1.5 cups dried red lentils or 1.5 cups canned (or rehydrated) chickpeas (if you’re in the mood for a “meatier” texture)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp organic sugar cane
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • optional stuff: 1-2 small carrots, 1 sweet potato, 1-2 stalks celery, chopped. Adding the carrots and/or sweet potato will make the sauce sweeter – you likely won’t need the sugar. The celery will add body and fiber, if sauce can have body. If you’re going to go nuts and like a chunky sauce, then why not add large chunks of eggplant, zucchini and pepper? But I digress… the focus here is a basic sauce that’s great to use as a base for a chunky veggie sauce, a rose sauce, a “meat” sauce, etc. We’ll get to those later.

Warm the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Sauté garlic and onion and keep it movin’. Once they’re translucent and fragrant, add tomatoes. Rinse the cans out, adding that water to the pot. Add a total of about 1 can of water or veggie broth to the pot, or just add two cubes/teaspoons of concentrated veggie broth to the pot once you’ve added the water. Stir, stir, stir. Add lentils (or chickpeas) and bay leaves. Stir, then cover and simmer for about 3o minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t wander too far (I’m lookin’ at you B), because these lentils tend to suck on to the bottom of any pot they get tossed in to. If you forget about the sauce at this point and don’t stir every few minutes, you’ll come back to a sticky lentilly mess which will take you about an hour to scour off the bottom of your best crock-pot.  As the lentils cook, they’ll suck up the water/broth you added. Be the judge if you want to add more, making your sauce thinner (or leaving it thick). After about 30 minutes, add the sage and about 10 shakes of Herbamare salt or, if you’re feeling extra zippy, Zatarain‘s creole salt. If this doesn’t sound like much, don’t worry, you can add more later. Add the sugar if you didn’t use carrots – this will cut the bitterness of the tomatoes, but not so much that it will take it all away, since this is meant to be a nice, tart/bitey sauce. If you’re channeling your inner Greek, you can also add about 1/4 tsp cinnamon – a little goes a long way. Now take out your trusty hand-blender or ladle the sauce into a food processor and blend to your heart’s content. This will make your sauce smooth and luxurious. And then… you’re done!

One final note: I recommend tasting as you get towards the end of this puppy, because as we all know, it’s not practice that makes a perfect sauce, it’s tasting!

Another final note: I just made this sauce with kale and it was phenomenal. Just throw in some rough-cut bunches and then hand-blend (watch the hand-blender since kale is really tough to shred; I had to de-kale the blade a couple of times – but it’s worth it!). Tons of nutrition and adds colour.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. barbara says:

    Don’t know *what* you are referring too (scrubbing blackened bottom of her one and only pot).

    I didn’t know it was my inner Greek I was channeling but I have been adding a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg (just a teeny bit) to my latest tomato sauces and I’m loving it!

    1. lil' vegan says:

      A great idea, especially in winter when you need that extra oomph of warmth!

  2. Tricia says:

    soooooooo yummy! and wonderful to freeze big batch for continued use but not continued cooking!

    1. lil' vegan says:

      Thanks Tricia! I always used to tease my mum for being excited about leftovers, but now that I do my own cooking and baking, I am the leftover QUEEN! It’s all about efficiency people 🙂

  3. Bailey says:

    I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of
    text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out

    1. lil' vegan says:

      Hi Bailey,

      Thanks for taking the time to send me your comment. I’m not sure I understand exactly what you mean, but I’d be happy to hear any suggestions you might have! I tend to get annoyed when people post a million photos all showing the same thing, so I don’t tend to include too many photos since they just take up room and make for a lot of scrolling. I’ve always focused on the text since I figure that’s what people would need to actually try the recipe out, but perhaps that’s wrong? I’m definitely willing to change things around if you think that will make the recipes clearer and easier to navigate!

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