There are many different ways to make spaghetti sauce, which can also be used in other pasta recipes, such as lasagna and goulash (which is not true goulash, which from what I understand is more like a stew), and baked ziti (just to name a few), with and for non-pasta recipes, such as gnochi, pizza, loaf, and whatever else you would like to use it for.
Your first step is to find a healthy base. I recommend diced tomatoes. The fewer and more recognizable and natural and healthy the ingredients, the better. I do recommend avoiding diced tomatoes that contain added sugar, and anything that has vinegar. Last week, we found some tomato sauce in a box that was made only from tomatoes, which was a good find as far as I can tell. You could also use tomato paste, watered down some, and/or a combination of any of those ingredients.
You can blend diced tomatoes to make them more like a sauce, or you can make a chunky type of sauce by not blending them (or you can combine blended and non-blended for a chunky sauce that is also saucy).
Now that you have your base, add some seasonings. One highly recommended ingredient is some non-toxic (in other words, not-from-China) garlic. You can use garlic powder or garlic cloves, sliced or crushed into the sauce, or both. For a small pan of sauce, I recommend one or two cloves of sufficient size, or a few more small cloves.
Oh, but would you like to add vegetables? Ok. What vegetables would you like? Some basic vegetables to add to sauce are bell peppers and onions. I also like spinach, olives (not spanish olives, and I recommend trying to find some that are vegan and not processed with lye), and tomatoes (fresh or diced) in my sauce. I also like mushrooms. Maybe you would like to try some of those, and/or eggplant (well-cooked, I think I would like that in my sauce also) broccoli, carrot, zucchini, summer squash, black beans, swiss chard (the leaves, at least), asparagus (why not?), different types of onion, such as red onion or sweet onion or cooking onion, artichoke hearts (I do recommend finding some pickled in brine, if you can, and not in vinegar), and whatever other vegetable you would like. Tomatoes and artichoke hearts may not need sauteing first, if the artichoke hearts are in brine .
For most of these veggies, I’d recommend slicing or dicing them up and sauteing them in a little bit of water or oil (just enough to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan and burning). Then when they are soft or at least getting soft you can add them to the sauce, or add some sauce to them. You can also blend them to kind of “hide” them in the sauce, or for a less chunky sauce.
Herbs! Herbs are important in spaghetti sauce. Do you want to use fresh herbs or dried herbs, or a combination. What do you have? I like basil, Italian Seasoning (which may be a combination of oregano, thyme, and/or other herbs, such as rosemary), oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I keep putting fennel in. It is good in sauce, but may be better ground than whole seeds. May be better to go light on the thyme and fennel. Sometimes it seems I don’t like it so much and the sauce might be too sweet, but it seems appropriate to put it in sauce. Don’t forget a pinch or two (or up to three) of salt, maybe sea salt, if there’s no salt already in your tomato sauce. There probably is in your diced tomatoes. If you feel you need to add more, maybe start with a light sprinkle or pinch. It’s better to be under salted and sprinkle on a little fresh after cooking than to have too much salt (especially if you have a tendency to add more salt to your food before eating anyway). If you’re not sure how much to add of the herbs and salt to add, start with a light dash or a pinch or two, taste, and gradually add a little more as needed. You could even go really crazy and add cumin and sweet or mild chili powder for a more chili like sauce, or for an amalgamation.
Maybe you’d like a vinegary taste by adding lemon juice? Some might add coconut milk to their sauce, too. Would you like to make the sauce a little creamier by adding some cashew cheese? That’s getting fancy, though. Maybe we’re not ready for that, yet.
You might like to put in some garlic powder and/or onion powder, especially if you did not crush some fresh garlic into the sauce. If you’re slicing the garlic, may I recommend sauteing it as a vegetable first? There’s also dried onion flakes and minced garlic, and I think maybe dried garlic somewhere, too. You could use those.
Is your sauce too bitter? Maybe you might like to try a little sweetener. May I suggest a little maple syrup or a little honey. For a small pan of sauce, maybe start with 1/2 of a tablespoon and taste. If it still needs a little more, than gradually add a little bit. You don’t want your sauce particularly sweet, do you? You probably just want to get the bitterness off a little bit. I’m not familiar with agave nectar, but that might work also.
Do you want to add some sort of veggie meat? Maybe you can crumble up some oat patties, some leftover burger or taco meat, breakfast sausage, or loaf (and you can find a few recipes on the recipe index for loafs and oat patties, or some leftover loaf), or even something crazy like falafel, or some diced tofu. Or maybe you have some vegan meat substitutes of your own to add. Maybe you’d like to serve it with ricotta tofu cheese or some other type of vegan cheese and/or walnut meatballs. In the case of the latter two options, you may like to wait until later to add them to your sauce, after it’s cooked, unless you are using your sauce in baking, in which case you can add those things to recipe before baking.
Ok, so have you combined everything? Have you been mixing it? How else would you know how it tastes or if you need to season it more? Be sure to mix it up well. Then bring it to a boil. You can gradually bring it all to a boil over medium heat, or even over lower heat. I’m a little impatient, so I often turn the heat up to high to get it boiling, and then reduce the heat to continue cooking for a few minutes. You want the garlic to be cooked so that it loses its bite (that’s assuming you’re using garlic). Maybe you need 10-15 minutes of cooking the sauce on lower heat. You can do what I do, too, if you want to.
Or if you are using the sauce in a recipe for baking, it may be safe to add the sauce and cook it in the oven as part of whatever you are baking. Your vegetables are sauteed, so what could go wrong? I suppose something could go wrong, but let’s wait until we get to that bridge before we cross it.
Oh, were you using the diced tomatoes to make extra chunky sauce? You might like to boil the sauce until most of the liquid is evaporated. Maybe not? It’s up to you.
Don’t like regular spaghetti sauce, and/or want something more fresh? Try making a bruschetta topping or a pesto for your pasta and/or other dishes. There are plenty of recipes out there, I’m sure. Sauce can even be made with sun dried tomatoes. I haven’t tried this yet, but would like to. Have you used sun dried tomatoes before to make a sauce? How did it turn out? What little I’ve seen looked appetizing, and tasting sun dried tomatoes I’m sure it would be delicious.
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