Friday, July 22, 2016

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein

Yum, yum. This is Scrumptious Pasta and Sauce!

Want to prepare a sauce that's packed full of nutrition, and looks, smells, and tastes great? It features the bright Mediterranean flavors of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. A secret ingredient, pinto beans, adds deliciousness, heartiness, and increased protein. Beans make the sauce a perfect thing to combine with pasta, legumes, veggies, brown rice, and many other foods. All beans provide a powerful helping of plant based protein, so perhaps this blog post will encourage you to eat beans more often. 

Look below to see how easy, cost effective, and fun it is to cook with them. You might be tempted to keep the sauce ingredients on hand to enhance the taste of all your favorite veggies. I revealed my secret ingredient so you'll try it. Maybe it will be your clean eating go-to gravy. One I love so much.

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein, Served on Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta


For Pasta
1 12 oz. package gluten free pasta (I used organic brown rice and organic quinoa mix fusilli) and fresh water to cook it in.

For Sauce
2 14.5 oz. Organic San Marzano Style Diced Tomatoes
2 14.5 oz. Organic Tomato Sauce
12 Organic cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 small whole ones
1 4 oz. can Organic Sliced Mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh ones
1  15 oz. can Organic Pinto Beans
Sprig of Fresh Organic Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Organic Oregano or sprig or 2 of Fresh Oregano 
1 teaspoon Dried Sage and 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme (optional)
2 Organic Garlic Cloves minced
2 Organic Zucchini 
2 Organic Carrots
1/2 Organic Yellow Onion (can substitute red onion or scallions)
Salt to taste (I prefer mine with no added salt, because canned tomatoes and tomato sauce have a lot of added salt)
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Notes: Feel free to add other veggies if you like. A few ideas are red pepper, string beans, kale, capers, and celery. When you add additional veggies, it makes the sauce thicker, increases nutrients, and heightens taste even more.
I always use organic ingredients when available, because organic means produce is not genetically modified, not sprayed with chemicals, and is not grown in soil that contains chemical fertilizers.

How to Make It

1. Open diced tomato cans, tomato sauce cans, and rinse fresh tomatoes. If you're using fresh tomatoes, chop them in the bowl of a food processor until chunky. Place all in a large saucepan that has a cover. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and bring all ingredients mentioned in this step to a boil. Stir and turn heat to simmer. Then cover and cook for 15 minutes. While tomatoes are simmering on the stove top, do the next step.

Note: Select fresh tomatoes that are bright red in color. This is a signal that they have ripened fully and are loaded with a valuable nutrient called lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and lowers unhealthy cholesterol. Cooking tomatoes for at least 30 minutes  releases more lycopene than cooking for less time. That's why my recipe suggests you cook tomatoes for 30 minutes total. Canned tomatoes are picked when at the peak of freshness and can be used when you don’t have fresh on hand. I buy only those that are packed in BPA free cans, because bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen found in the epoxy coating of food cans, has been linked to many health problems. Many companies have publicly pledged to stop using BPA in their cans, but check to see that the ones you buy are labeled BPA Free.

2. Rinse canned beans, mushrooms, and all fresh veggies in cool water. Prep zucchini and carrots by washing and scraping off sand and dirt with the side of a knife. Keep as much skin on as possible, as it contains fiber and nutrients. Peel onion and garlic. Rinse basil and any other fresh herbs and veggies you want to include. Put all remaining ingredients except pasta in the bowl of a food processor and chop until they reach a consistency that you like. I like to see little chunks of veggies in my sauce as it adds bright splashes of color and texture. Chop as fine or as chunky as you wish, but for 2 minutes max. Pour veggies into simmering pot of tomato sauce, mix, and cover. Bring to a boil again and simmer for 15 minutes more. 

Zucchini on the left is scraped clean as is the carrot on the right

Basil, Pinto Beans, and Mushrooms

3. While veggies, beans, and tomato sauce mixture is cooking (the last 15 minutes of the cooking process) put up a large pot of fresh water to use to cook the pasta. Follow the package directions (the package of fusilli I used stated that 1/2 cup of dried pasta is one portion and to cook fusilli from 7-10 minutes). It's best to test pasta for doneness at 7 minutes, so it doesn't get overcooked. When done, place pasta in a colander and strain. Put individual portions of fusilli into dishes, top with sauce, and serve while still piping hot.

This is Freshly Made Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce 

Right below is another way I used my versatile vegan tomato sauce, a day later.

I combined 2 cups of Tomato Sauce with 2 cups of Lentil Soup for this Mouthwatering Soup Transformation

For information about lentil soup see this link:

A few days later, I served the remaining sauce on steamed green cabbage and red skinned potatoes. It looked fabulous and was so delicious. I seasoned the dish with organic garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of extra virgin organic olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of Himalayan Pink salt.  

Organic Green Cabbage, Organic Red Skinned Potatoes, and Sauce

When you tabulate the cost of a home-cooked meal like this to meals that have been processed commercially and frozen, or eat a similar meal in a restaurant, you'll realize you come out way ahead of the game by eating at home. You save money, are eating real food, and can trust the quality of the ingredients that are in it. My secret ingredient protein tomato sauce recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare, so you save time too. Refrigerate extra sauce, as soon as you're finished making it. It will stay fresh for up to four or five days. Have fun inventing new ways to serve it. Other ways to use it might include to put it into gluten-free burritos or organic corn tortillas, or use it to top off spiralized zucchini. 

Don't forget to let me know what you think of my "secret ingredient" vegan tomato sauce. This is how to do it. Scroll down at the end of this post and write in the space that says "enter your comment." Then, click on "publish" after you've written your comment. Thanks so much.

The quote for today follows: "Putting even one thing in your shopping basket that's locally produced or organic makes all the difference. It's a vote for the future, for animal welfare, for the environment, for your children's children." Sheherazade Goldsmith

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  1. Oh my those beans in there are so sneaky and so healthy!

    1. Thanks Mary for your comment. Yes, this recipe is a good way to include beans undercover, as it is in the sauce. Love your recent blogs about travel around your town and in Greece. Fascinating to learn about your lifestyle. Nancy A.

  2. HI Nancy,
    Wow this sounds so healthy and delicious - filled with all those veggies. The tomato sauce on top makes a perfect meal. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Marla for the support of me and real food that'organic. Keep up your fine work to help us think and act green.Nancy A.

  3. I love your addition of carrots and zucchini to this sauce! I have both in my house now. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Alison for your comment and the visit. I am a big fan of zucchini and carrots and I now I find out you are too! Please stop by again and be well. Nancy A.

  4. What a yummy dish! Thank you for sharing your healthy and delicious Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein with us at the Plant-Based Potluck Party! I'm pinning and sharing!

    1. Thanks Deborah. Glad you enjoyed reading my post. Thanks also for being such a gracious host at one of the best Food Potluck Parties on the Net. Nancy A.


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