Monday, May 2, 2016

A Vegetable-Packed "Pasta" Sauce served over Quinoa

When I thought about getting pregnant, I imagined close to my due date I would make a few weeks of healthy meals to freeze so we would be well-fed while loving on our newborn...but over the past few months I realized that this plan is not going to work for me.  I love to cook way too much and I also get anxious about having food in the freezer that needs to be eaten before it goes bad lest we waste it.  I can't stand to waste things!  Just last month I made a chili that we had too much of and I froze a serving of it.  I think every other day after freezing it, I asked my husband if we were going to eat the chili for dinner yet.  It actually got in the way of our meals for the week, when it was supposed to make things 'easier'.

So instead of a bunch of healthy meals to freeze, I made this one Vegetable-Packed "Pasta" Sauce and quite a few batches of cookie dough for our freezer.  (There is nothing like baking a sheet of fresh cookies when you want one.  This helps us not eat too many cookies too, since a jar full of cookies is much more enticing than just 12 between the two of us!).

Normally I would serve the "Pasta" sauce over actual pasta but quinoa is much healthier and makes for easier eating at lunch time than a bowl of pasta.

You can choose whichever vegetables you like for this recipe but I recommend at least an onion, lots of garlic (I used 8 cloves!), carrots and at least one bell pepper.

I've unfortunately gotten picky about my canned tomatoes and will shop around for the San Marzano tomatoes - they are just so fresh and tasty!  I used two cans of crushed tomatoes this time, but could see mixing it up with diced too.

I diced up a whole zucchini and package of cremini mushrooms for our veggie-packed sauce.

The final 'special' addition to this pasta sauce is kalamata olives.  I chop up about a 1/2 pint of pitted kalamata olives, and it gives the sauce that extra special briny flavor that only olives can offer.  I don't like canned olives so I wouldn't recommend substituting those unless you actually like them because the flavor definitely sticks around, it isn't hidden in the rest of the sauce.

Although we're often French wine drinkers, it obviously wouldn't do for an Italian sauce so Andy picked out this Sangiovese from our favorite local wine shop.  $10 and its a good glass but not too expensive to cook with!

A few fresh basil leaves now...

...and a few fresh basil leave later :)

This recipe made 12 cups of sauce so we froze 7 cups (our one healthy meal stock for when baby gets here) and split the rest for one dinner, over fettuccine, and one lunch, over quinoa.

Vegetable-Packed "Pasta" Sauce


1 large yellow onion
8 medium to large carrots, peeled and diced
8 fat cloves of garlic, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c olive oil
1-2 c of mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, diced
1/2 pint of pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 28 oz cans of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
2/3 c red Italian wine
fresh basil leaves
salt to taste


In a large stock pot, heat your olive oil to medium and add your onion, bell peppers, carrots and garlic to the pot.  Saute until the carrots start to get soft (not mushy) and the onions begin to get translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add your mushrooms, zucchini and olives and saute for another 3 minutes or so.  Add your tomatoes, red wine, a few chopped basil leaves and a light sprinkle of salt.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Serve your sauce hot, topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, if you want, and some fresh basil.  You'll enjoy this over your favorite pasta, in a bowl with hunk of crusty bread or over top of quinoa - this sauce is so good on its own, you'll easily find ways to make sure to eat it all without eating a ton of pasta ;)

PS look at all these glorious cookie dough balls ...

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