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i-can’t-believe-it’s-meatless tomato sauce

red wine tomato sauce

Hello, my pretties. We’ll be quick today in honor of tax season. I have a zillion e-mail records to go through (the bane of online work) and missing 1099s to calculate by hand. My tax preparer, who also happens to be my best friend from grade school, is in 90 degree-plus Virginia this week, so I really can’t say which of us has it worse.

mmm, red wine

This red wine tomato sauce recipe can be subbed for a jar of any red store-bought pasta sauce. I like to double or triple the recipe and freeze it because hey, if I’m going to the work of making my own sauce, I may as well have some for next time.

sautéed onions, coated in the spices

But is it really work? Chop an onion, press a few cloves of garlic, open a can of tomatoes, and do some measuring. Twenty minutes on the stove, and it’s done.

adding the red wine to the onions and spices

There’s a secret to this tomato sauce. Your omnivore friends will think it has meat in it. The trick is fennel. An earthy, tangy spice used to flavor sausage, fennel is the spice that makes us think “meat.”

What do I like to do with this versatile tomato sauce?

• use it in lasagna
• top pasta with it and sprinkle with Parmesan (obvious)
• use it in baked penne (recipe coming, ooh)
• add mushrooms to it
• add soy burger crumbles to it
• add chopped red or green pepper to it
• add soy sausage crumbles to it

milford's buon appetito italian seasoning. nice tin, dudes

I-can’t-believe-it’s-meatless tomato sauce will happily take anything you wish to add to it. Go make it if you have a chance. I have Paypal receipts to sort through.

i-can’t-believe-it’s-meatless tomato sauce

The recipe calls for a large can of whole tomatoes, briefly whirred in a blender. You could instead use a 28-ounce can of tomato puree (make sure it’s made from only tomatoes) or even diced or crushed tomatoes, according to your preference. The latter will be a chunkier sauce. Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals.

Time: 45 minutes
Special equipment: blender (optional)

    1 tablespoon olive oil (not EVOO)
    1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    2 teaspoons ground fennel
    2 teaspoons Milford’s Buon Appetito Italian seasoning* or 1 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried basil
    ⅓ cup red wine
    3 cups undrained canned tomatoes (28-ounce can)
    ½ to 1 tablespoon sugar
    salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the onions are cooking, whirl the tomatoes in a blender until just puréed and set aside.

When onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the fennel, oregano and basil* and cook for another minute to coat the onions and garlic in the spices.

Pour in the red wine and bring to a boil. This will happen quickly, so have the puréed tomatoes handy, or have your canned purée, diced, or crushed tomatoes open and ready. Add tomatoes and sugar to the pan and mix well.

Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your preference.

* Just want to let you know that Milford Spice, a Michigan company, sent me a free sample of this seasoning. I also happen to dig it a lot.
** If using fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon each of fresh oregano and basil and add them in the last couple minutes of cooking time.

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your comments

  1. Hmmmmmmm….looks too good to be true!

  2. Angie says:

    Why not evoo? That’s the only one I use. Just wondering if there was a special reason because I make my own meatless sauce

    • Amy says:

      Hmm, I was going to answer “because evoo has a very low smoke point” but according to Google I was wrong! Absent a “smoke point” excuse, it just comes down to personal preference. I tend to feel like cooking with a high-quality extra virgin olive oil is kind of a waste, because it’s so tasty uncooked.

      So, I was mistaken. Use evoo to your heart’s content. :)

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