Make a pot of easy marinara sauce packed with extra veggies for more nutrition and flavor that your kids will love to eat with their next bowl of pasta. The method is super simple and you can adjust the recipe based on what you like and have on hand. So easy!
We eat a lot of pasta in my house, partly because I’m Italian-American and partly because it’s incredibly easy, inexpensive, and kid-friendly. A bowl of pasta always goes over well with my kiddo, almost regardless of what it’s served with, so we eat it at least once a week. So I do my best to pack nutrition into the sauce to ensure they are getting a lot of the good stuff they need.
How do you make homemade marinara sauce from scratch?
The method for this easy marinara sauce recipe is super simple. You warm up a little olive oil, add 3 cups of chopped veggies and a large can of diced tomatoes, and then simmer for about a half an hour until everything is soft. You can leave it chunky or puree it, depending on what your family likes.
Healthy Marinara Sauce
The result is fresh, flavorful, and it’s filled with vitamins A and C—and a little extra vitamin C is always nice to help keep those little immune systems strong! And while I don’t regularly advocate hiding vegetables in our kids food (it can feel a little dishonest to be sneaky), this is a case where I don’t see the harm because the veggies are serving as both nutrition and flavor boosters.
How to Make Marinara Sauce with Extra Veggies
As long as you use lightly colored, orange, or red vegetables to blend in with the natural color of the tomatoes, you can take your pick of veggies and it will look like regular old sauce. (This is not a place to add kale—those green flecks are a dead giveaway that a veggie is lurking inside!) I like to add carrots, celery, butternut squash, onions, sweet potato, bell peppers, yellow summer squash, and sometimes even eggplant with the skin removed.
Quick Marinara Sauce with Canned Tomatoes
Using canned tomatoes in this easy marinara sauce makes it easier to get everything prepped and cooking faster. And canned tomatoes have a reliably good flavor! I like to use diced tomatoes, though you can use crushed if you like. It really doesn’t matter.
Quick Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
You can make this recipe with fresh tomatoes, which I often do in the summer when we have a lot on hand. It will likely have much more liquid, so it may need to simmer a little longer. To reduce the time, you can remove some of the interior seeds and liquids as you chop them up.
How to Store Homemade Marinara Sauce
You can make a big batch of this on the weekend and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it during the week, which is what I like to do. You can also let it cool and store it in a freezer safe container in the freezer for at least 3 months.
This easy marinara sauce pairs with a pound of whichever type of pasta your family likes and makes for a simple dinner whenever you are needing a little healthy comfort food!
Pack your next batch of marinara sauce with extra veggies for added nutrients and flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups any combination of these vegetables, roughly chopped:
onion, carrot, butternut squash, sweet potato, celery, and/or cauliflower
- 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables, stir, and cook until just starting to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat so the simmer is low (both to avoid splatters everywhere to avoid scorching the pot).
- Cover loosely—put the lid on sort of off kilter to keep the splatters in but still allow some steam out—and cook for 30-45 minutes until all of the vegetables are very soft.
- Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Season to taste and stir in the butter. Serve with 1 pound of your favorite pasta and Parmesan cheese. (You may not need to use the whole batch. Use as much as you need and store the rest for a future meal!)
To make Meat Sauce:
Brown 1/2 pound ground beef or mild Italian sausage in Step 1 after you warm the oil. Proceed as directed.
To do this in a Slow Cooker:
Double all ingredient amounts and add to the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or until everything is softened. Finish as directed in Step 3.
To make this into Pizza Sauce: Simmer the sauce for about 30-45 minutes longer or until very thick. Add 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning.