Who doesn’t ADORE a good, chunky tomato sauce? I know!
I love that you can add so many great ingredients into a tomato sauce and it never seems to be too overwhelming. When it comes to adding superfoods, my motto is the more the merrier! For me, making a tomato sauce is almost like making a stew of amazingness; amazing flavour and amazing nutrients, not just some boring drizzle for a heaping mound of pasta.
The mushrooms and lentils really make this a substantial and filling sauce plus give it that boost of protein and fibre to help balance blood sugar and keep you satisfied and energized for the long haul. Plus, you’ll be getting lots of vitamins and minerals like selenium, potassium, magnesium and zinc as well as loads of B vitamins, which are great for hormonal and nervous system health. Yay!
Adding some ground chia seeds at the end is a great way to add even more fibre and help to thicken the sauce. I like to add them at the end to avoid overheating them during cooking which can damage the healthy fats.
I also love using lots of fresh basil! Adding a bit into the sauce as it cooks helps to impart that signature, peppery flavour and, later, a hearty garnishing of some freshly chopped basil at the end will give you a serving of the beneficial enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins that fresh herbs are so high in! It also just gives the dish an added layer of sophistication for fancy pants like you and me.
This chunky tomato, mushroom sauce is so good that you can easily eat it all on its own without adding pasta and that’s good news given the next little tidbit I’m going to lay on you. Here’s the thing, I do always use healthy pastas in my cooking, whether they are high-protein, gluten-free pastas like quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat or, ancient grains like spelt, kamut…but, go easy on the pasta and heavy on the sauce instead of the other way around. I try to make the nutrient-rich sauce the star of the show, while the healthy whole grain pastas play more of supporting role as you can see here.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
- • I tbsp coconut oil.
- • 1 sweet red onion, diced.
- • 4-6 cloves garlic crushed.
- • 1 package cremini mushrooms (8 oz), sliced.
- • 1 c fresh basil sliced into thin ribbons (divide in half).
- • 1 28 oz. BPA free can or glass jar of diced tomatoes (with liquid).
- • 6 tbsp tomato paste.
- • 1 tsp red pepper flakes.
- • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
- • 1 cup cooked lentils.
- • 1 bag baby spinach (about 8 oz. or 3 large handfuls).
- • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds.
- • ½ tsp sea salt + ground black pepper.
- In large saucepan heat coconut oil over med. heat. Add diced red onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Stir in sliced mushrooms + red pepper flakes + garlic + ½ cup of slivered fresh basil and cook until reduced and juices released (about 5-10 minutes).
- Add can of tomatoes (with liquid), tomato paste, cooked lentils, apple cider vinegar and stir well to combine.
- Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cook for another 10-15 minutes stirring frequently.
- Add chia, spinach and salt and pepper and stir through until spinach wilts.
Top with remaining slivered basil.
Additional optional toppings: try goat cheese or a dairy-free Parmesan topping by mixing cashews with nutritional yeast, garlic powder and sea salt.
- • 1 cup unsalted cashews (150 g)
- • 4 tbsp brewer's or nutritional yeast
- • 1 tsp fine sea salt
- • 1 tsp garlic powder
- Pulse all ingredients in food processor and store extras in