There is no better time to hit the local farmer’s markets than right now. Gorgeous fruits and veggies are all tumbling into season and all over grower’s tables. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate the veggies I love, but may not necessarily be my family’s favorites (hello eggplant!) into our meals. I’ve never been one to try to sneak beets or spinach into sweets or somewhere they wouldn’t be expected, but a tomato sauce, well, that should be loaded with every possible veggie if you ask me! I’ll make simple pureed sauces and serve them over pasta and not even think twice about it. As long as the sauce tastes great, no one needs to know how loaded with nutritional value it is. Give this one a try over some simple rotini. You’ll love it and feel good serving it!
Loaded Veggie Tomato Sauce
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups peeled and small diced eggplant
- 1 cup small diced onion
- 1 cup small diced carrot
- 1 cup small diced celery
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 quarts canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 scant teaspoon dried thyme)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in long, thin strips
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 dry bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
In large (5-quart or bigger) thick-bottomed pot, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and saute gently (not browning vegetables or garlic) until vegetables start to become tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes, herbs, tomato paste, and bay leaves.
Simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Serve over pasta or freeze unused sauce in smaller portions for future use.
Recipe adapted from the North American Olive Oil Association