Truly Five-Minute Tomato Sauce*

This sauce comes together so fast, and the starting with a cold pan so crucial, that it is vital all ingredients be ready. Even the can of tomatoes should be opened!

Ben Pollock explains nutritional yeast.
Ben Pollock explains nutritional yeast.
Photo by Christy K. Pollock

While intended as a marinara for pasta, this makes a great sauce for one large or two smaller pizzas. In fact, I no longer buy jarred pasta sauce — with its incredibly high amount of salt — just keep lots of cans of tomatoes in the pantry.

The sauce does not need Italian-style herbs, but if you wish, add a teaspoon total of dried basil, oregano, thyme or a prepared blend. What about fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs? That’s another recipe.

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can plain crushed, diced or whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs — such as basil or oregano, or an Italian blend (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup texturized vegetable protein (TVP) granules (optional)
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine (optional)
  • 4-8 ounces vegetables, such as chopped greens (spinach, kale etc., fresh or frozen) or sliced or cubed zucchini or mushrooms, equivalent to 1-2 cups (optional)
  • salt (1/2 teaspoon to start) and ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon to start) (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime (2 Tablespoons)

If using a whole lemon or lime, finely zesting the peel before juicing is recommended. Place a small saucepan on a cold stove burner but do not turn on. Have the opened can of tomatoes next to it. If using whole tomatoes, squish or cut them into bits.

Place in the cold pan the oil, pepper flakes and garlic. Set heat to medium-high and saute 30-60 seconds, stirring frequently, until tiny bubbles are first seen. Do NOT risk browning the garlic. Dump in tomatoes with their juice and optional herbs. Add optional TVP. Add optional wine. Add optional vegetables. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer two minutes. If using vegetables, simmer up to 10 minutes. Taste, add salt and black pepper if needed.

Take off burner, stir in juice and optional zest.

Serves 4. Can garnish with a dusting of nutritional yeast, a vegan seasoning alternative to grated Parmesan.

*Five minutes? Could be four-12 minutes depending on variations, but otherwise, yeah, five.

Adapted by Ben S. Pollock from of Heidi Swanson

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