Vegetable pasta sauce is filled with hidden veggies like bell pepper, carrot, celery, and zucchini - but you'd never know! It's packed with bright, savory flavor and makes the perfect addition to your next home cooked meal.
Once you try this vegetable pasta sauce, you'll be hooked. It's filled with hidden veggies like zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, and celery, and tastes way better than the jarred stuff from the store!
This sauce simmers up on the stove top quickly - it's ready in less than an hour and makes a whopping 16 (or more) half-cup servings. It's perfect for meal prep and freezes beautifully.
Use vegetable pasta sauce in any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce. Serve it over spaghetti for a quick weeknight meal, or use it in your next homemade baked ziti or lasagna casserole.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Olive oil - Can be substituted with any cooking oil you have on hand.
- Aromatics - Onion and garlic add flavor to your sauce. I don't recommend omitting either of these ingredients.
- Crushed tomatoes - Two cans of crushed tomatoes serve as the base for this recipe. Feel free to use plain crushed tomatoes or tomatoes with basil for added flavor.
- Vegetables - Carrot, celery, bell pepper, and zucchini are the added veggies in this recipe. I used some previously frozen zucchini (from my how to freeze zucchini post). This recipe is perfect for frozen veggies that may have a softer texture when thawed. Many fresh or frozen veggies you have on hand can be added here. Other options include mushrooms, eggplant, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach, and parsnip.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning add depth of flavor to your sauce. Italian seasoning can be substituted with a combination of any Italian herbs you have on hand, like oregano, basil, sage, and rosemary.
- Granulated sugar - A small amount of sugar is added to the sauce to neutralize the acidity of the tomatoes. It's not enough to make the sauce taste sweet.
The base of this recipe (crushed tomatoes, aromatics, and seasoning) is easy to customize with additional vegetables. Here are a few vegetables that can be added to pasta sauce:
- Bell pepper
- Summer squash
- Butternut squash
Ways to use pasta sauce
This pasta sauce can be used in any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce as an ingredient. Use this pasta sauce to make:
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Baked ziti
- Homemade pizza
- Chicken parmesan
- Dipping sauce for breadsticks
- Stuffed shells
Homemade pasta sauce will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Sauce reheats well on the stovetop over medium heat or in the microwave.
Vegetable pasta sauce freezes and thaws beautifully, and can be stored in a freezer-safe container for up to six months. To thaw, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight, or place on the countertop to thaw for 1 to 2 hours.
Vegetable Pasta Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 56 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a large stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
- Add celery, carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, crushed tomatoes, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove from heat.
- Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth, or transfer sauce in batches to a standard blender to process until smooth (remove the center cap from the lid and lightly cover with a kitchen towel to allow steam to escape. Never fill a blender more than halfway full with hot liquid).
- Fresh or frozen veggies can be added to this recipe. This recipe is a great way to use up frozen zucchini that can be a little soft when thawed and cooked.
- Recipe makes about 72 ounces, or 9 cups, of pasta sauce. Serving size is ½ cup of sauce - recipe will feed less if using larger serving sizes.
- Homemade sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container or in the freezer for up to 6 months. To thaw, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.