Recipe: Hidden Veggie Marinara


For an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t know you could make marinara.

I didn’t know you could easily open a few cans, chop a few veggies, and throw everything in a pot, creating a meal with love, all while making your kitchen smell like an Italian restaurant.

(Big bonus there, my friends.)

I pretty much thought it required a stroll down the ethnic food aisle, and then deciding between Prego and Ragu.

(And just for the record, I am choosing to blame this lack on knowledge on my ancestry. I am many things, but Italian would not be one of them.)

Then, one day, I stumbled upon a recipe for marinara.

I mean, who knew?

At any rate, over the last few years, I’ve become quite adept at making my own marinara.

always try to gather the ingredients ahead of time, as there is nothing worse than discovering I don’t have a certain ingredient while in the midst of my baking or cooking adventure.

Sucks the fun out of the whole experience in a big hurry.

At any rate, this is one of my go to meals when I am feeling a serious lack of ambition.

All ingredients present and accounted for: tomatoes (cans opened), vegetables chopped, diced, or minced, and spices on standby.
In a large pot, on medium heat, add olive oil. Once hot, add garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add carrots and green peppers. Cook until veggies are crisp tender and their colors begin to pop.
Add cans of tomatoes, juices and all.
Stir in spices.
Smash the tomatoes with the spoon to help break them down. Simmer for 1/2 hour or so.
Next, blend. I use an emersion blender, as it takes a lot less effort than a blender, and I’m kinda lazy that way. If you are trying to disguise the vegetables (should you have a picky child or picky husband), blend well. Otherwise, feel free to leave chunks.
I add the mushrooms after blending, because…well…I love mushrooms. And so does my husband.
Now you could choose to call it a day at this point, BUT if you would like feel free to add some protein, now is the time. I love Tofurky Italian sausages; however, I have not been able to find any down here. (And I am trying to get past that.) Field Roast Italian sausages are a close second. They kinda freaked me out a bit though…had to cut them out of their casings. Gave me bad memories of 7th grade social studies when I found out what a natural casing was made of. (Field Roast’s are a plastic like material FYI.)
I love penne pasta, but you could certainly put this on whatever type of pasta strikes your fancy. I think it goes without saying that the pasta needs to be cooked first. Just thought I’d throw that out there…just in case. I sprinkled some nooch (nutritional yeast…tastes like cheese…at least it does if you’re vegan) on top for the finishing touch, but you could certainly use parmesan if that’s your gig.


Serves 6-8 ish

1 T. olive oil

2-4 cloves or garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

2 carrots (I cut into thin coins, but you just do you…they just need to cook)

2 28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes

1 8 oz. package fresh mushrooms, sliced (I’ve used baby bella and white)

1 T. basil

1 T. oregano

1 T. rosemary

1 T. thyme

salt to taste


optional: Italian sausage, meatballs, or crumbles (I can only vouch for the sausages)

Heat oil in large pot. Add garlic and onion. Play with it until the onion becomes translucent and the smell of garlic permeates the air. Add carrots and green pepper. Cook until crisp tender. Add cans of tomatoes (with juice) and spices. Stir and let simmer for about a half hour or so, stirring occasionally, smashing tomatoes with spoon as they become soft. Then, blend with an emersion blender or transfer to a regular blender. BE CAREFUL. Hot liquids like to blow off the top off of blenders. (That’s why I stick to my immersion blender. Cleaning the ceiling does not rank very high on my fun meter.) If using a blender, pour the sauce back into the pot. Next, add mushrooms and protein (if so desired). Cook until sausages are heated through (vegan sausages don’t need to be precooked) and the mushrooms are tender.

Serve over pasta of choice. Sprinkle with nooch.




4 thoughts on “Recipe: Hidden Veggie Marinara

  1. I see we are of the same mindset about this marinara business! I stopped buying sauce in jars several years ago after I got mad about the sodium. (Added stuff like that tends to inflame me!) I make mine like yours but add fresh basil when I have it. I also make a variation where I roast the tomatoes with the bell peppers (usually frozen) and lots of garlic. I blend that all up with the hand blender. I like the added touch of mushrooms and sausage too, great idea. Have you tried making your own sausage yet from vital wheat gluten? It’s a great alternative choice (and super easy) if you can’t get the vegan sausage.

    Another great back pocket idea. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Libby…we are soul sisters. My pet peeve is high fructose corn syrup. Why? Just why?

      Love, love, love basil. I am going to add that the next time I make the marinara. And no…I haven’t ventured out into the wheat gluten arena yet. Do you have a recipe that is your go to?

      Hope you are doing well, Libby. I appreciate the comments and the suggestions. Take care!


      1. Don’t get me started on that high fructose corn syrup situation! Why indeed? My long time nemesis is salt but now, I have a new foe: I am looking at you, sugar-that-is-in-everything!

        So, the sausage. The link is here:
        I made it “as is” except for the cayenne pepper. I get about 6-7 sausages, not 4. I also wrapped them in parchment paper and then foil prior to steaming. I bought the vital wheat gluten at Amazon: Anthony’s vital wheat gluten 4 lbs. Four pounds is sort of a shocking amount I know. I do put it in bread though and keep it in the fridge. Let me know if you make them. They have an unfortunate appearance/shape but really, they are quite tasty.

        PS-I saw that you are a Thug cookbook lover too. I don’t know who those folks are but that book makes me laugh every time and the recipes are all pretty good:)

        Take care and let me know if you tackle those sausages!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Libby! The sausages are on my list of things I need to try. I am now on the search for vital wheat gluten. We have a cute little shop in town that sells the most interesting items (even have liquid lecithin for making butter), and I am going to look there before ordering it.

        I’ll let you know how it goes!

        Enjoy the day!


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