Instead of buying jarred marinara sauce, you can make your own vegan marinara sauce recipe at home with fresh ingredients. Unlike jarred marinara sauce, the vegan marinara sauce recipe doesn't have any preservatives or processed ingredients.
When shopping for fresh tomatoes, look for the cracked, slightly bruised tomatoes sold at a discount for a deal. The flesh of the tomato, for instance, should be dense, sweet and blood red. So, essentially look for tomatoes that are overly ripe. As a result, this makes the freshest and brightest tasting sauce.
WHAT TOMATOES TO USE WHEN TOMATOES ARE NOT IN SEASON
Because tomatoes are not always in season, most of the time we need to buy tomatoes in a store. But, often, regardless of the time of the year, fresh tomatoes are not available.
As I mentioned in other posts, POMI tomatoes are my favorite store-bought tomatoes. Pomì tomatoes are deliciously rich in flavor, completely natural, without salt, and sugar, and GMO-free. Pomi tomatoes are 100% organic tomatoes without added oils or fillers. Since I can only find them at Sprouts Market, I sometimes have to order them online, when tomatoes aren't at their freshest.
Most store-bought marinara sauces contain oils, salt, and sugars. Since I am making my own marinara sauce today, I plan to use my own home-grown tomatoes, but when in a pinch, I buy POMI Marinara Sauce.
If you are lucky enough to find or grow fresh tomatoes during the year, take advantage and freeze them while you can. Likewise, if you make homemade sauce, freeze it in bulk for those times during the year it is difficult to find fresh tomatoes.
FRESH VS. DRIED HERBS
Although I prefer fresh herbs over dried herbs, dried ones work in a pinch.
Chef Neil, for instance, recommends using fresh herbs whenever possible, as they will provide you with the greenest, “herbiest” flavor. Of course, there are times when fresh herbs just aren’t available.
"Maybe they’ve gone out of season, or you just haven’t had the time to run to the store. Either way, you’re still going to want to enhance your meal with those subtle flavors. Chef Neil offers some facts and tips about herbs to help you make the most of them.
- Dried herbs tend to have a deeper, spicier flavor than fresh herbs. For that reason, you can usually add less dry herbs than you would fresh herbs. That way, those strong flavors won’t overpower your dish. A good ratio is 1 to 3. For example, if a recipe calls for 3 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, use 1 teaspoon of dried.
- Dried herbs tend to have fewer oils because they are dehydrated. However, those oils tend to be trapped deeper inside the herbs. To make the most out of them, try rubbing them in your hands to release more of the oils. It is also best to add dry herbs during cooking to release those flavors. Add fresh herbs at the end of cooking because they will retain their fresh flavor from stove to plate.
- Sometimes, it’s never okay to substitute dry for fresh. Herbs like dill, parsley, and basil lose or change flavor when dried. Parsley, when dried, loses all of the fresh flavors that make it worthwhile as an herb. Dehydrated basil, on the other hand, tastes more like mint than fresh basil -- a flavor that won't compliment your pasta dish very well. Other times, it’s better to use dry. Go for dried oregano for deeper, longer-lasting flavor. You can also rarely go wrong with dried bay leaves.
- It’s important to note that even when they’re dried, herbs can still go bad. Most dried herbs don’t last more than a year; check to see if they have lost all of their green colors. Old herbs will just taste dusty."
For this recipe, I use fresh basil, oregano, and parsley, which can all be exchanged for dried herbs when needed.
MAKING THE VEGAN MARINARA SAUCE...
Most homemade marinara recipes call for olive oil, but I think it's unnecessary and adds additional fat to a fresh, beautiful marinara recipe. Instead, I focus on the real ingredients and flavors, rather than attempting to weigh them down with unnecessary ingredients.
In order to keep it real, I focus on the basic ingredients to make a hearty and deliciously rich marinara sauce. Sauteeing the onions, shallots and the garlic in organic vegetable broth, instead of oil, produces the same marriage between the flavors. Shallots, unlike yellow onions, are a bit sweeter than regular onions, and their flavor is more subtle but enhances the taste of the onions.
Paul and I appreciate a great bottle of red wine from time to time, but sometimes we buy a bottle of Red Zinfandel that is a bit too strong for us to drink. Though we think about drinking it at a later time, it sits in the refrigerator, for far too long. As a result, it gets even stronger, and we can't drink it. So, "waste not want not."
Red wine sitting in the refrigerator, for instance, makes the best sauce wine. Or, if you have a bottle of red open, share it with your sauce.
My girlfriend, who doesn't drink, buys single small bottles of red and white wine to use for cooking at the grocery store. Again, it's all about saving money 🙂
COOK SLOW AND ON LOW TEMPERATURE.....PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!
Honestly, the secret to perfect marinara sauce is cooking slow and low. Similar to pressing tofu, the result is in being patient. Since my sauce doesn't have any added sugars or oils, when I cook the sauce on low, for an hour or more, the onions and shallots carmelize on their own, bringing out their natural sweetness.
WHEN IN DOUBT, FREEZE THE VEGAN MARINARA SAUCE FOR LATER!
In order to think ahead, and be smart, I make a double batch of vegan marinara sauce recipe, so I can freeze it for later. At the beginning of my plant-based journey, I cooked small amounts of food and didn't think ahead. Then, after trial and error, I learned the benefit of making extra and freezing it for later.
Instead of grabbing a jar of marinara sauce, on those busy days, I can now grab a freezer bag of fresh vegan marinara sauce. With a little planning, cooking is much easier.
WHAT CAN I USE VEGAN MARINARA SAUCE FOR?
Despite many of my posted recipes have jarred marinara sauce, I have learned homemade marinara sauce is mush better, So, instead of using jarred marinara, exchange the real deal in these recipes:
- Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
- Veggie Stuffed Shells
- Vegan Stuffed Shells Recipe
- Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Copycat Sublime Vegan Lasagna
- Skinny Zucchini Stuffed with Veggies and Tofu Ricotta
Similarly, this sauce is fabulous for dipping breadsticks or Crunchy Baked Zucchini Coins and Baked Crispy Oil-Free Zucchini Fries.
Vegan Marinara Sauce
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil chopped
- 4 ounces POMI tomato paste
- 64 ounces POMI chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup red wine I used red Zinfandel
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Vegetable broth to prevent sticking in pan
- In a large stockpot, add onions, shallot, and garlic; cook for 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add a small amount of veggie broth to prevent sticking
- Add chopped herbs and cook for 3-4 minutes longer.
- Add tomato paste and stir until thinned.
- Stir in wine and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid dissipates.
- Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.
- AS tomatoes break down, I use a hand potato masher to mash the tomatoes a bit. You don't want to blend them with an immersion blender since you want it thick with chunks of t6oamtoes.
- Stir occasionally and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Store ina covered container in a refrigerator until ready to use
- It will last 4 days in the refrigerator.
- If freezing, wait until completely cool, and spoon into a ziplock bag and seal.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂
So why not just call it 'Organic' Marinara. I would argue that almost all marinara that you can buy is Vegan. Just because something is 'Vegan' does not make it organic....not the same thing.
Hi Joe, actually a lot of marinaras contain dairy, believe it or not, to make it creamy. However, the reason it is named vegan marinara is that people who are vegan generally search for a recipe that is vegan. And, I try to make it easy to find. Thank you for your question.