Healthy Garden Sauce

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!

Produce at my local farmer's market | Amanda's Apron food blog

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.

Healthy Garden Sauce Recipe | Amanda's Apron

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

3 14oz cans of organic diced tomatoes
1 sweet onion
1 small zucchini
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
2T oil
1t chili flakes, optional
2T fresh parsley
1T fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for Healthy Garden SauceJust 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.)

Healthy red sauce recipe | Amanda's Apron

Once the oil is heated, sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the garlic.  Meanwhile, dice the other vegetables.

Eating healthy is eating the rainbow | Amanda's ApronOnce the onions are translucent and the garlic fragrant, add the remaining vegetables.  Stir occasionally over about 5 minutes time.

How to make clean, healthy red Garden Sauce | Amanda's ApronI 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.

Fresh Herbs are the healthiest flavor enhancementOnce 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.

Healthiest red sauce recipe, hands down! | Amanda's ApronAnd 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.

Healthy Garden Sauce | Amanda's ApronEnjoy this easy, healthy, spicy red sauce!

Chunky Garden Sauce with Whole Wheat Pasta & Spinach | Amanda's Apron

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