You won’t miss out on any flavor (or preservatives) when making this bold and robust Gluten Free Vegetarian Zucchini Pasta Sauce. This sauce is healthy and loaded with flavor for the perfect weeknight dinner.
AHHHHHH…not a crazy, stressed out kind of a sigh. No, I’m talking about a sit back, relax, and enjoy the day kind of an AHHHHHHH.
Today has just been the perfect day. Let me tell you about my very unproductive, productive kind of a day. Ben makes fun of me because even when I am avoiding actual necessary responsibilities, I can never just sit around. I end up running myself ragged doing things that don’t really need to be done. Yeah, that’s me.
For instance, today I probably should have folded the laundry that is still sitting in the dryer, put away the clothes that are folded in the laundry room, taught Emry some more of her ABC’s (gotta get that girl ready for kindergarten), swept dead millipedes off my porch, showered (or at least sponge bathed my stinky armpits), filled out the girls’ dance recital paperwork that is due tomorrow, organized our “junk basket” in the front room, and a myriad of other chores that would eventually leave me smiling once completed.
Ummmm…I reviewed a few letters with Emry, so let’s check that one off the list. Other than that, my day was an epic fail in the chore department. Here is what I did instead:
- Went for a leisurely run pushing Emry in the stroller. Who am I kidding??? Pushing a 4 year old does not classify as “leisure”.
- Worked out with some of my mama friends. Let’s face it, I go for the social interaction after all the kicking booty boot camp is over.
- Went grocery shopping because, you know, the day after you go grocery shopping you really need to go again. Turns out I forgot white chocolate chips yesterday and I really needed them because I had to make cookies today.
- As stated before, I made cookies because that is essential for a Friday. I call it “recipe testing” but in reality I just wanted to make some more vanilla orange cookies. Hopefully I’ll post the recipe soon because they are lip smacking good.
- FaceTimed my mom who is painting my brother’s entire house. I’m jumping on that free labor train the next time we move. Get to work mama!
- Painted Emry’s nails. I would hate to have people thinking she is a neglected child because her nails aren’t painted. Again, necessary.
- Called a bestie of mine that I have been friends with for as long as I can remember. I don’t feel bad about that one. It’s important to keep up with your favorite people. I’m usually really horrible at making time for phone calls, but today was different.
- DID THE DISHES!!!!!! You guys, I forgot that I did do something legitimately chore-like. Yay for me!
Yep, that’s about the jist of it. Still a busy day, but not necessarily a productive day. Now I’m sitting here blogging, eyeing the blue skies that were supposed to be cloudy, debating whether I should again procrastinate my blog posting and head to the pool or the beach. Decisions, decisions.
Let’s see, I have about 10 minutes before I have to pick Braelyn up from school. Maybe I can have the best of both worlds by finishing my post and then going swimming. I just have to type super duper fast. Like fast enough that this keyboard catches on FIRE!!!!! Watch out, THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE!!!!
Okay, in all seriousness, you can do a lot in just 10 minutes. In fact, that’s all the prep time it takes for this Vegetarian Zucchini Pasta Sauce. A mere 10 minutes. And cook time??? TWENTY minutes!
Hmmm…let’s see…okay we’re back in math class for a moment. 10 + 20 = 30! Does that mean this right here is a 30 minute meal??? I think so! Just boil up some noodles during the time it takes the sauce to simmer, and you have a meal waiting for you in only a half an hour. That’s my kind of weeknight meal right there.
Or…if you have a little extra time on your hands, you can toss this sauce with some noodles, transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle a mixture of cheeses on top, and bake at 350 until bubbly and browning. Either meal is delish!
I love this sauce for a few reasons.
- It’s quick and easy, which we already established.
- It has no preservatives since you are making it from scratch.
- It has no refined sugar since it is only slightly sweetened using coconut sugar.
- It has ALL the flavor!!! There’s a reason I call it bold and robust.
- It’s vegetarian which means my kids are getting filled up on veggies while eating something they love: pasta.
See, it’s the perfect meal. You can even switch up the veggies if you are not a zucchini fan. Use more bell peppers and mushrooms, or throw some chopped up carrots in there. Artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes would also make a tasty addition.
You can cook the veggies to your liking as they simmer away. For crunchier veggies, just reduce the simmering time. For softer veggies that are more like the canned spaghetti sauces, simmer for the full 10 minutes. Personally, I’m a fan of crisp tender veggies as a side, but I like my veggies softer when it comes to pasta sauce.
The mixture of Italian seasoning, plus extra basil and oregano, give this sauce so much authentic flavor that it’s hard to resist double dipping your spoon each time you taste test. Fresh herbs are always better, but for convenience I went the plain old dried route. Ain’t no shame in that. But seriously, if you have fresh herbs on hand, more power to you and more power to this sauce.
So if this sauce is calling your name, and you decide to take me up on the recipe offer and make it, let me know how you ended up using it. I always love to hear what people are doing with my recipes. Plus, it’s nice to know when others have success.
And to that I say “Bon appetit!!!” Wait…no, that’s not right. That’s French, not Italian. Hmmm…come to think of it, I don’t think I know any Italian words. Oh well. Fail.
How often do you buy canned or bottled pasta sauce?
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or cooking oil
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
- 1 zucchini, cut in half, then quartered, then chopped ¼" thick
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
- ½ can tomato paste (6 oz. size)
- 1 large can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning veggies
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning veggies
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until drop of water sizzles. While oil is heating, chop onion, carrots, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Toss into heated oil and season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 6-8 minutes until veggies are crisp tender, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
- While veggies are cooking, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Take each half and quarter lengthwise. Chop strips into ¼" thick pieces. Mince garlic. Add zucchini and garlic to pan. Season with a few more shakes of salt and pepper. Stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
- Reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients to pan and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve pasta sauce warm on top of noodles or replace in your favorite dishes that use red pasta sauce/marinara sauce.*
- Store leftovers in airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days.