The ultimate comfort food with a healthy twist!
When you think of comfort food, what is the first thing that pops into your head? For me, it’s Italian. Thick, rich savory sauce, over a pile of spaghetti, freshly grated parmesan cheese and some nice crusty bread. Nom Nom Nom…my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
BUT, let’s face it, spaghetti consumed on a daily basis (yes, I crave it daily), isn’t healthy. Carb overload!
Since upstate New York has been getting so much rain lately, the dark gloomy days put me in the mood for comfort food. I knew my favorite sauce recipe didn’t jive with my current eating plan so I decided to come up with my own healthy version. Cue, Vegetable Marinara.
All fresh ingredients that simmer all afternoon. The smell was intoxicating! I couldn’t wait to try it. Fresh tomatoes, lots of vegetables, fresh herbs, olive oil, a tiny bit of stevia, garlic and my secret ingredient; worcestershire sauce! Yum!
For this recipe, you’ll start with 4 pounds of ripe tomatoes. Yes, you read that right. Roma tomatoes are my favorite to use in sauces because I think they are meatier. I also do not blanch or peel them first. I’m way to lazy to do that. If you prefer no skins in your sauce, feel free to go ahead and do that.
First, I chopped the tomatoes in large chunks then I squeeze them with my hands to break them up a bit more into a bowl. You can also use a food processor. After I sauteed the chopped vegetables and garlic in olive oil in my Le Crueset dutch oven, I added the tomatoes with juices and fresh herbs, covered the pot and let it simmer down for about 30 minutes. Once it was nice and thick, I added the final ingredients and let it simmer about 20 more minutes. Viola! Quick, easy, healthy marinara sauce!
I served the sauce over whole grain pasta for the boys but the husband and I had it over sauteed zucchini noodles! Enjoy!
Homemade Vegetable Marinara with Ripe Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Garlic (Yields approx. 1 quart)
- 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon good Olive Oil
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1cup shredded zucchini
- 1 cup mushrooms chopped
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 onion chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bunch of fresh herbs including basil, thyme, parsley and oregano, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt*
- 1 tablespoon sugar (if using stevia 1 teaspoon)*
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- Using your hands, squeeze tomatoes into smaller bits over a large bowl. Include juices. (or pulse a few times in a food processor). Set aside.
- In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium low heat. Add carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, green pepper, onion and garlic and saute till until vegetables are softened and garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes and juice to the pot along with the fresh herbs and bring to a simmer, stirring on occasion. Reduce the heat to low. cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Again, stirring occasionally.
- When sauce has thickened, stir in sea salt, sugar and worcestershire sauce. Continue to simmer on low for another 15-20 minutes.
- Serve immediately or allow to cool and store in a jar. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Sauce can also be frozen.
*The amount of sugar and salt, required will depend on the sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes you choose to use. Start with the directed amounts and add more as needed.