Now before I share this recipe, I wanted to make a quick mention of something…
Just because this is a vegan dish does NOT mean that I’ll be pushing veganism on you, or that you can’t enjoy this if you add meat or cheese to it.
While I am not vegan, I had decided to give up all meat, pork and poultry almost two years ago for my own personal reasons (and I’ve been experimenting with dairy alternatives as well).
I only mention this because it’s one of the factors that inspired me to spend more time in the kitchen – thinking up some creative concoctions to help fill the gap.
So with that being said…
I had wanted to make homemade pasta sauce for a while now. It was only a matter of getting started.
I purchase my produce from the local farmer’s market because of the numerous benefits I receive from doing so.
Knowing that I’m filling my home with fruits and vegetables that are grown locally (or one or two states away) makes me feel good about the nutritional content of what I purchase. I also know they practice organic growing methods, which I support.
In this case, making my sauce using fresh tomatoes and home grown basil gives me a sense of satisfaction I’d never experienced before.
Now while I can’t (and won’t) say that I eat ONLY the purest foods 100% of the time, I will say that I practice clean eating often – and I not only enjoy it, I prefer it.
I was a total junk food addict throughout most of my life and didn’t learn to appreciate healthy foods until I was in my mid to late 30s.
This was when I had finally started to realize the importance of shifting my mindset to one that understands balance as a means to well-being…which is what enables me to stick with eating habits that are healthy for the long haul.
These days, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and whipping up something I can feel good about eating.
Guilt and food don’t belong together.
So with this in mind, it’s a good idea to stay open to new possibilities by trying new things.
I’ve created this pasta dish that I’d like to share with you. My husband and I have been enjoying this for several months now, and if you decide to make this, I hope you do as well.
Spaghetti with “Meat” Sauce (Vegan Recipe)
I didn’t follow any specific recipes to make the sauce. I did, however, browse through a couple of techniques to learn how to cook tomatoes – but everything else, including the ingredients, flavors, and techniques were all formed within my imagination.
I’ll list the ingredients, explain how I implement my techniques and I’ll tie it all up at the end.
- Tomatoes (8-15 depending on size – more on that in a minute)
- Sweet onion (1 cup chopped)
- Garlic (3 cloves – crushed)
- Fresh basil (8 leaves – dried will work as well)
- 1 oz organic lemon juice (or fresh squeezed lemon)
- 1/4 cup of organic coconut palm sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
My local farmer’s market often sells “boo boo baskets” (produce that didn’t quite make the cut in regard to being considered worthy of full retail price).
This could happen for a number of reasons, such as mild bruising or community share program orders that were never picked up.
But whatever the case, I’m the lucky one when I find a basket full of goodies that will only cost me $1 each.
And since they know me at this market, and had some extra tomatoes to share, I only paid a dollar for all of these beauties.
As you can see, there’s a variety of different ones here, which was just fine by me. There are about 13 of them – which allowed me to make a nice, large batch of sauce.
Now while I’m aware that some people prefer to remove the skin from the tomatoes, I keep them on. I feel that the entire tomato (including the skin and seeds) offer nutritional benefits, so this was how I chose to approach this recipe.
But you can remove them if you’d like.
After washing them, I slice them…
…and I place them into a pot, brought them to a boil and allowed them to cook on medium heat for 15 minutes while stirring them frequently.
In the meantime, I add the sweet yellow onion and fresh garlic to a pan with approximately 1-2 tbsp of organic olive oil, salt, and pepper and saute them on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until they’re somewhat caramelized.
Now once the tomatoes are finished cooking, I allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.
It’s a good idea to remove most of the liquid from the cooked tomatoes. Otherwise, the finished product will be runny.
The next step is to blend them into a sauce.
To the pot of tomatoes, I add half of the sauteed onions and garlic, the lemon juice and coconut palm sugar.
Using my Oster Immersion Hand Blender, I whip the combination into a sauce.
It’s that easy.
You can make the consistency smooth or a little chunky (as pictured above). Your choice.
Do different things with it. Just enjoy the process.
Since this is homemade (with no artificial flavoring), I’m generous with the salt and pepper. Knowing that everyone has their unique preferences, I suggest you taste test while adding them in and tailor this to your satisfaction.
Once the sauce is blended, I add the rest of the onions and garlic to give it some texture.
I have a few Italian Large Leaf Basil plants that I’ve started from seed. I’ve also propagated a few of the cuttings, which grew into full plants as well.
I purchased the seeds from The Seed Guy because the price was beyond fair, especially for the amount of seeds that came with it (about 300).
One packet of Non-GMO heirloom seeds was $2.25. Shipping was only around $.75, so for a total of $3, it was worth the investment.
I enjoy being able to go outside and pick fresh herbs to add to my dishes. For this recipe, I pinch about 7-8 leaves and add half of them to the sauce while it simmers.
Preparing the Meal
Now it’s time to make the pasta and prepare the “meat” sauce.
You can use any pasta you’d like, but if you follow a gluten-free diet, I recommend using brown rice pasta. There are several versions of it, so you can use whatever you’d prefer.
When I go for a gluten-free pasta, I’ve used (and liked) Tinkyada Rice Pasta. You can find this at your local grocery or health food store – or on their website. If you have a Trader Joes by you, you can look for their brand as well.
To cook it, just follow the directions on the package.
Since this is a vegan recipe, I’ll mention that I like to use Beyond Meat Beef Crumbles (plant protein/no soy, NON-GMO).
I simply defrost the crumbles and add them to the sauce as it simmers.
You, however, can prepare your meat sauce however you’d like – using whatever you want.
But if you do use ground beef, poultry, etc. – I would highly recommend supporting a company that doesn’t participate in factory farming practices (they are HORRIBLE!)
Tropical Traditions has some good products, or you can see what your local grocery store has to offer.
So to break this down, after the sauce has been made and continues to simmer:
- Cook the pasta (and add 1/8 cup of the pasta water to the sauce). Video instructions below.
- Defrost the vegan crumbles and add them to the simmering sauce.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce as well.
- Chop and add the remaining basil and mix thoroughly.
- Plate, serve and enjoy.
If you’ve never worked with fresh herbs, you’ll want to check out the following video to learn how to chop them properly.
And to get the best results for restaurant style pasta in sauce, follow the tips in this video. Obviously, omit the butter and cheese (to keep it vegan) – but that won’t affect the rest of the process.
Putting it All Together
I’ve made this several times and have it down to a science.
The entire recipe takes me about 1.5 hours from start to finish (with some idle time in between as the sauce simmers for a little while).
The MOST important thing to do with this recipe is to have fun with it.
You can add steamed or sauteed veggies or include some fresh oregano if you’d like.
Use your imagination and let well-being be the ultimate guide here.
I hope you’ve found this easy enough to follow, and if you do decide to make this, I’d love to hear about how it worked out for you.
Let me know in the comments below if this is something you think you’ll be trying soon 🙂
* Affiliate disclosure:
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and would result in compensation if you purchased anything I’ve recommended. The Seed Guy, Tinkyada and Beyond Meat links are not affiliate links.