A few years ago, my roommate Erin started following a program called IQS, or I Quit Sugar. She was on it for quite some time before I said “hey, how about I join you and we split groceries and cooking duties?” So, we did just that.
Not only did I detox from sugar, causing me to despise almost all convenience food (most of it tastes as sweet as candy to me now, even pizza), but I also learned some of the best recipes and methods for cooking.
One of my favorites, and the one I make the most frequently, is the recipe for roasted veggie sauce. It’s so easy that once you’ve made it a couple of times you don’t even need a recipe anymore.
I pair this with some whole wheat or protein pasta and I don’t feel bad about eating a big bowl at all.
All you need to make a big batch of this sauce is tomatoes, onion, garlic, assorted fresh or frozen veggies, olive oil, salt and pepper, a cookie sheet or two, an oven, and a blender. I also like to use foil because it makes clean-up infinitely easier, but it’s not necessary.
Start by lining your cookie sheet(s) with foil if you like. I used one half-sheet cookie tray, but I wish I would have been able to use another sheet as well. When we moved into our apartment there was only one oven rack, so I was limited. I recommend you use two large cookie trays so there’s more caramelization of the vegetables and less steaming.
Spray the foil with cooking spray or a hefty drizzle of olive oil. I LOVE this kitchen gadget called Misto. I can use whatever oil I want for my non-stick spray, and I don’t have to buy the stuff from the store, which seems wasteful and expensive to me.
Next, cut up your veggies! You always want to use tomatoes if you can. They add a lovely acidity and the moisture helps the sauce along. Use 8-10 Roma tomatoes or the equivalent of vine-ripened or beefsteak tomatoes. You also want to use onion. I used 1 whole red onion because it was what I had. Use whatever you have, but if it’s too small or too large, adjust how much you’re using if you like. The one I used was about the size of a tennis ball.
After that, I just threw in what I had in my fridge. I had bought 10 oz. of frozen butternut squash earlier in the week because I like how it tastes, but the original recipe calls for diced pumpkin. If you’re not a squash kind of person, just skip it. I rough chopped 2 zucchini, tossed on about 2 cups of broccoli florets and a cup of baby carrots. I’ve used asparagus and yellow squash in the past, I’m sure fresh green beans, mushrooms, cauliflower or sweet peppers would be great, or even some raw spinach thrown in when blending. Use your imagination!
Toss the veggies on your cookie sheets and spray liberally with your cooking spray, or give them another hefty drizzle of olive oil. You don’t want your sheets to be as crowded as mine is in these photos. Give the veggies some room to breathe.
Sprinkle with a liberal dose of salt and pepper.
Put your trays in an oven heated to 400° F and let them roast away for 30-45 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want some charring/caramelization, but not too much. After about 25 minutes my broccoli was done, but the rest of the veggies weren’t quite there, so I pulled the broccoli out and set it aside, and flipped everything else over. You might need to do this too depending on the level of crowding and how well your oven behaves.
At this point, I also added some unpeeled garlic cloves to the sheet. I had cut off the root end but left the husk on. This helps keeps the garlic from burning. You can also wrap peeled cloves in foil, or leave it out and add raw garlic later when you blend everything up.
I popped it back in the oven and roasted for another 15 minutes. Then I pulled everything out, let it cool, and added it all to a blender, including all liquid from the bottom of the pan. You should be able to just squeeze the garlic out of the skin.
Trust me, let your veggies cool completely unless you have a vented lid for your blender. You do not want to have veggies spattered all over your kitchen.
This is really all you need. At this point you could blend until everything is smooth, but I decided to add basil and a little bit of crushed red pepper for some extra flavor. I prefer fresh basil, but this is what I had on hand.
Blend away! This sauce will be thick, but you want it to actually be a sauce, mine came out more like a thick paste initially. I ended up having to add a little bit of water to thin it out, but you could also add veggie or chicken broth if you want more flavor. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it! It stores in the fridge nicely in an air-tight container for a couple of weeks and freezes well for a few months (I just put it in a freezer bag). Mine yielded about 40 oz. this time, which is almost 2 large jars of spaghetti sauce.
I would rather have this than marinara and Tim likes it as much or more than tomato-based sauces.
I usually pair this with pasta, often with panko-breaded eggplant and cheese for my version of eggplant parmesan but it’s also good on hot sandwiches. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it would be amazing as a pizza sauce too. Give it a try and let me know what you think!