Growing up, tomato sauce (aka gravy, which my Italian father and Pop-Pop call it) was a staple in our home every Sunday. I can recall waking up on Sunday mornings when every other family smelled maple syrup and pancakes in the kitchen- but O’ no, not our family. I could smell the fresh basil and natural sweetness in my father’s tomato sauce, which is starting making in the early hours of the morning and let it simmer throughout the day until dinner. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you create a tomato sauce that takes 12 hours to make. Who’s got time for that? Besides my retired father- no one. Ha.
So, this is a spin on my father’s tomato sauce. He always added a spoonful of white sugar, until his inflammation spiked through the roof and I had to get him off of refined sugar and white flours, cheap vegetable oils, etc. So, I gave my father’s sauce a makeover and tossed in dried fruit in place of the sugar, which I’ve been doing for years. I was taught this trick from an old roommate of mine who loved to add dried fruit to her sauces and we started adding a little bit of dried fruit to tomato sauce together for natural sweetness because the dried fruit become soft and releases its natural flavors when it is in the warm sauce, so over time the sauce becomes naturally sweet from the fruit- without having to add any sugar at all. Pretty exciting, right? I thought so.
I’m a huge fan of making tomato sauce and I still like to make a pot for myself on Sundays, just like my father, and I often put on Frank Sinatra (like he did) and dance around my apartment. It’s cozy and fun and I love it. So, today I’m sharing with you how to make the best tomato sauce. In my opinion, the best sauce always includes sun-dried tomatoes. In my cookbook, I didn’t use sun-dried tomatoes in oil (I used the dry variety) but here I’m using the ones in a glass jar with olive oil for extra creaminess and flavor).
My suggestion is to start this sauce by sauteing the peppers and onion and on the stove top in olive oil until they are super tender, then adding them to the food processor with the remaining ingredients to whirl around a bit before you transfer everything to a large pot on the stove top.
This is the easiest and BEST way to make tomato sauce and I’ve been inspired over the years by my father and my Pop-Pop on how to make the best sauce. So, I guarantee this recipe will keep you very, very happy whether you choose to put it over zucchini noodles, my grain-free crackers or my grain-free pizza crusts in my cookbook, Eating Clean. Take time on Sunday to make this sauce…I assure you, you’re taste buds will thank you. Plus, leftover sauce is delicious over roasted veggies and my chickpea socca in my cookbook.
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Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why I eat organic: The Benefits of Eating Organic.
- 2 small orange bell peppers or 1 large orange bell pepper
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained
- 5 large heirloom tomatoes diced
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped sweet white onion
- 1 Tbsp. dried cranberries or raisins or 1 pitted Medjool date finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- In a large skillet, saute the bell peppers with the olive oil and onion until the peppers and onions are tender and the onions are translucent. Set aside.
In a large food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, sauteed bell peppers and onions, cranberries, basil, parsley, salt and pepper; cook over medium heat and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the sauce is naturally sweetened from the cranberries. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve warm.