A plus about living in Florida is that the climate is ideal for fresh garden ingredients nearly year round. I keep trying to find pluses so I don’t become bitter about our 80 degree winter. As a born and raised Floridian, January should be at least 70 degrees, if not 65. I digress. Back to the garden!
I visited my local farmer’s market this week as usual and found some lovely little ingredients. I was also asked how to make a healthy red sauce without sugar in it on Facebook, so I combined thoughts to create this Healthy Garden Sauce.
This is a deliciously chunky sauce that you can feel good about! No sugar, no preservatives, as spicy or mild as you’d like it, and it is a great addition to pasta, spaghetti squash, pizza, lasagna, or a bruschetta style appetizer.
Healthy Garden Sauce Recipe, makes about 5 cups
Just a note, fresh tomatoes can be used, but will only taste great in this sauce if they are at the peak of ripeness. I don’t usually cook with cans, but in this case, the canned tomatoes were pretty perfect!
First, heat the oil on medium-low heat and dice the onion and garlic. (Or use a garlic press like I did.)
Once the oil is heated, sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Meanwhile, dice the other vegetables.
I love how colorful it all was! I feel like I’m on the right track when I’m eating the rainbow. (And not the skittles kind.) Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. I also added the red pepper flakes here, but I have to warn those who are not fans of heat: the greater amount of red pepper and the longer you let it simmer, the spicier the sauce will be. So, if you only want a little kick, add a dash of red pepper later in the cooking time. You’ve been warned.
Cover the pot and simmer on medium-low for 30-50 minutes. The waiting time is a good time to cook pasta if you’ll be using the sauce right away. I also washed my fresh herbs and let them dry near a window.
Once the sauce has finished simmering, dice the herbs and stir them into the sauce. (*Note: you can use dry herbs, and if you choose to, add them in with the salt and pepper. But, please, if you can at all, try to use fresh herbs. They add a beautiful flavor that just wouldn’t be the same with dry herbs.) Continue cooking the sauce uncovered for about 5 minutes.
And then it’s ready! My hubby is not a fan of traditional red sauce but he devoured this! (He likes his spice.) This sauce is easily saved in a bag in the freezer or in mason jars. Be sure if you jar the sauce to follow all the sterilization and correct procedures of canning.