Sunday, February 21, 2010

Very Veggie Pasta Sauce

I don't like meat sauce with pasta. I'm okay with meatballs, but I just don't like chunks of meat in my pasta sauce. When I was growing up, my mom would save some plain sauce out of the pot before she added meat to it because she loved me. Thanks, Mom.

I do, however, love veggies in my sauce. Why chunks of veggies but not chunks of meat? Maybe it's a texture thing, or maybe I'm just plain weird. I'm sure it's the former, since I'm perfectly normal in all other ways. Ha!

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add whatever veggies you have on hand. It's especially great at the end of the summer when you need to use up your garden produce. The sauce freezes wonderfully, so you can enjoy that fresh veggie taste all year.

You'll need:

1 TBSP olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced (1/2 teaspoon minced garlic = one small clove)
3 cups of chopped veggies - onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, etc.
1 26-oz can of tomato puree
1 6-oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 TBSP Italian seasoning
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 teas sugar
2 teas salt

Saute the garlic in olive oil for a minute or two until golden. Add the chopped veggies to the pan and cook until soft.

In a large pot, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine well. Add the softened veggies and turn the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for at least an hour. Stir occasionally. If the sauce is too thick for your preference, add a little water until it reaches desired consistency. Adjust the seasonings to your taste as well.

Serve this over pasta or use as a base for vegetable lasagna. It's very hearty and flavorful, so there's no need to add meat to your sauce. If your family doesn't like chunky sauce, you can blend the softened veggies in a food processor before adding to the tomato base, or you can wait until the sauce is cooked and blend until smooth.

To freeze, place up to 4 cups in a gallon Ziploc bag. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and carefully squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal and freeze. To thaw, place in the fridge for a couple of hours. Reheat in a saucepan.

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