Vegan Master Marinara

Ahhhhh, another glorious Indian Summer day in West Michigan! Or is it Native American Summer now? I can’t keep up. Either way, it’s a beautiful rainy fall day, and it brings to mind a beautiful people.

I have had so many thinks about which recipe to post next!  So far, the hardest thing about being a recipe blogger is just getting everything in order. Not only am I easily…

…Wait, it seems weird to say “ A beautiful people”… Is it singular or plural?  It is grammatically acceptable, no matter how stilted, because technically, “people” refers to a group or nationality, and is therefore singular …

… distracted, but my brain is so full of ideas and recipes  (not to mention grammatical ponderings) that I have to force myself to take a step back, breathe, and just concentrate on one thing/think at a time. I’ll refrain from using that old colloquialism about eating an elephant one bite at a time, because vegan. And also because eww. Elephants are herbivores too, you know, and get a load of their “canines”!  Plus, any female anything who endures a whole year of pregnancy deserves the utmost respect, in my book.  

I was making dinner last night when it hit me. Not dinner, an idea.  Brian wanted spaghetti, so I checked the pantry for ingredients. I had 2 big cans (thank you, doctor!) of tomatoes, so I decided to make a double batch of sauce. I also had two beautiful red bell peppers, so on second think, I decided to split the double batch and make one half roasted red pepper/tomato sauce. You won’t believe how easy it is to do this!

Sauces have always been one of my specialties. They’re way easier to veganize than I thought they would be, with the exception of cheese sauces.  Those can be done right, but it takes a certain flair. This sauce is so simple to make and so versatile!  I will follow up this post with a couple recipes that feature this marinara. It will probably become a staple in your rotation; it freezes really well and is great to have on hand when you’re short on time.

Like the stick-shaking scenario in my Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins blog, I wondered about the origin of the word “marinara”.  I knew it had something to do with the sea, but further research left me wanting.  I do know it’s from the same root word as mariner (sailor) and marinate (steep or pickle in liquid). So let’s just say a drunken Italian sailor invented it sometime in the late 1600s and get down to business.  Just as I’m sure he did. Mama mía!


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine (or 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Turn the heat down to med-low.  Add the basil, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano and crushed red pepper and stir together, coating the onions, about another 3 minutes. This will not be pretty, but it will smell heavenly! I like to cook my spices along with the onions and garlic so a little of their bitterness cooks out (Yes you, oregano. You know how you get).  Hit it with the minced  garlic and let cook for one more minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, wine or vinegar, and stock. Stir all ingredients well.
  3. Turn flame down to the lowest flicker.  Cover your pan with a tight-fitting lid and then walk away like you just don’t care. Like that mariner probably did.
  4. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Let it simmer at least 30 minutes (an hour is better, if you’ve got it, but 30 will do).

If you like your sauce slightly chunky, you’re done!  If you prefer it smooth, use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to puree until smooth and creamy. I cannot recommend an immersion blender enough.  Such a time-saver.

That’s it!! There’s your master sauce.  If you only want tomato sauce, this will be enough for two meals (about 3 ½ cups). If you want to make both, here’s what you do:

Pour half the sauce in a bowl. That marinara is on leave and can go chill while we make the red pepper sauce. The only additional ingredient you’ll need is two red bell peppers.

Before beginning the master recipe, heat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it. Turn each pepper on its side and place on baking sheet and into the oven. Let them roast for 20 minutes, flip over and let roast 20 more. If the skin is charred and the peppers look like they’ve collapsed in on themselves, you’ve done it right!

Now put them in a bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and let them hang out whilst the tomato sauce is simmering.

Once cool, peel off the plastic wrap and remove charred skin, seeds and stems.  They should look a little something like this:

Now add the peppers and their juices (the preciousssss) to the remaining tomato sauce. Blend until smooth.

That’s it!! You now have two delicious homemade sauces to go with pasta, ratatouille, OR……….

How about soup two ways?

That’s right. All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of vegan butter and half a cup of nondairy milk to either sauce (or both) and voila!  You’ve got a couple of hearty soups!  This time around, I turned the roasted red pepper sauce into a soup, and used the marinara to go with my lasagna roll-ups. Yum!  I will be blogging those next, including how to make the best vegan ricotta.

Until then, me swabbies, anchors aweigh!

Aaaaaaand… now I’m craving pasta and Gene Kelly movies.

Buon appetito!

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2 thoughts on “Vegan Master Marinara

  1. I LOVE this! I think I am going to make some zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash noodles and top it with your master marinara! YUM

    1. Thank you, Jessica! That’s what I love most about this simple sauce… Its versatility! Please show off your master marinara masterpiece on Instagram, and don’t forget to #goinglentil! 🙂


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