vegetable tomato sauce

March 3, 2012

vegetable tomato sauce, vegan lasagne, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

I came up with this sauce for my lasagne recipe based on an old favourite from my childhood. But don’t stop at lasagne. This sauce would grace the likes of any pasta large or small, sophisticated or plain, day or night. Make a big vat of it, let it sit for a couple of hours to cool and to let the flavours meld, and then store in containers in the fridge or freezer until inspiration hits or dinner duty calls. And since it’s packed full of veggies, it’s a great way to get those much needed nutrients into young picky mouths that otherwise might balk at the likes of green things like zucchini. 

4 tbsps olive oil

2 onions, chopped finely

6 medium carrots, grated

6 celery stalks, grated

3 medium zucchini, grated

large handful enoki mushrooms

6 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup red wine

6 cups stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

basil, thyme, parsley, chopped

1 tbsp organic cane sugar

sea salt and pepper

To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and sauté until they start to turn translucent. Add grated carrots, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms. Sauté until beginning to get soft, 3 – 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until aromatic, about another 2 minutes.

Add the red wine and let simmer until reduced by about half. Add stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Add chopped herbs, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Set aside for the flavours to meld.

I found this recipe in the Globe and Mail years ago. It hails from Lucy Waverman and  I return to it again and again and again.We love mushrooms in this house. We spring out of bed on Saturday mornings to get to the farmers market to find specialty ‘shrooms like the ones above. I don’t know their name, or their particular qualities, but does it really matter? They are mushrooms, they are beautiful, and they are happy companions to any other mushrooms we thrown in the sauce with them. If you can’t find any unusual mushrooms, just use the regular offerings from your grocery store and you’ll still be happy with this fabulous sauce dripping over your mashed potatoes, on pasta, or even on toast with arugula and pine nuts.

1 pound mixed mushrooms

3 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup veggie stock

2 tbsps Port

2 tbsps chopped parsley

salt and pepper

Trim mushrooms, removing stalks if you are using shiitake, and chop. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until they begin to lose their juices, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add balsamic and stock and bring to boil. Reduce until liquid practically disappears and then add Porto. Saute 1 minute longer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and parsley.

johnny apple sauce

November 5, 2010

After years of singing “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh……the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed…” I am thankful for the sun and the rain. And I’m happy to have the apple sauce that comes from the apple seed. This is sweetness at its best with a hint of spice and the grape of the gods. Have it for breakfast, dessert, or a mid-afternoon snack. Or as a saucy side to roasted squash, portobello mushrooms and brussels sprouts.

It’s very simple and incredibly good, two of the top criteria for me when cooking. One question before I go on. Why is it that everything homemade is always better than prepared?? Rhetorical question of course because I know the answer. Thing is, it’s making it next to impossible to go the store-bought route for things like hummus, tapenade, and now apple sauce. I swear the difference in taste is night and day.

2 1/2 cups water

4 tbsps strained fresh lemon juice

8 medium-sized Granny Smith or other apples (tart is good but you choose – there is such a variety)

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

3 star anise

2/3 cup good sweet white wine (try Henry of Pelham late harvest vidal)

ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix half of the water and half of the lemon juice together in a bowl. Peel and core the apples and cut them into 1 1/2 inch chunks. As you cut each apple, drop the pieces into the water to prevent discoloration.

In a medium size saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine remaining water and lemon juice, the sugar and the wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the apple chunks, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Partially  cover and cook gently until apples are tender. Remove cinnamon sticks and star anise. Add ground cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Serve warm or cool, cover and refrigerate.


September 20, 2010

And what is soubise you ask? It’s a good question. Fortunately the recipe I found in my first search happened to be an almost-vegan soubise – probably not by design since the chef behind the recipe – Jamie Kennedy – is not a vegan chef. Lucky for me though because had I found the common, and traditional recipe, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it much further. The classic french soubise is a white sauce made from a bechamel base (butter, milk, flour, and more butter), flavoured with pureed onions and enriched with cream. I can’t vouch for the traditional recipe, but the version below is pretty damn good without the cream, or the butter. Serve it with Flageolet Soubise, on sandwiches, or any other way your onion-loving self desires.

4 medium-sized onions, peeled and sliced thinly

200g olive oil

salt to taste

Cider vinegar to taste

1. Place sliced onions and olive oil in a saucepan and cook slowly until onions are transparent, but not browned.

2. Transfer to a blender and process until pureed.

3. Season with salt and a touch of cider vinegar.


August 24, 2010


So what’s charmoula? I asked the same question. I found the recipe in Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners and, it sounded good, but I had never heard of it. Turns out wiki, of course, has the answer: “Chermoula or charmoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan  and Tunisian  cooking. It is usually used to flavor fish or seafood, but it can be used on other meats or vegetables. Chermoula is often made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt. It may also include onion, fresh coriander, ground chili peppers, black pepper, or saffron.” Bonnie Stern’s includes mayonnaise, for which I substituted veganaise. Tasty. It actually totally satisfied my longing for aioli which I do love but have put on the no-no list for obvious eggy reasons. We had it last night on the Moroccan Tagine and it was, naturally, the perfect compliment.

1 cup veganaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp hot red pepper sauce

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked)

2 tbsps finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine veganaise, garlic, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, cumin, paprika, and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

onion confit

April 3, 2010

This is from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Vegetables. I have it stewing on the stove as I write this and the smell is good enough reason to make it! She suggests that it’s a particularly nice compliment to wilted greens or in pasta, or as an hors d’oeuvre on a crouton. I’m going to serve it for Easter dinner with the grilled portobello mushrooms for the vegans in the house, and the lamb for the non-vegans.

4 large onions

4 tbsps olive oil

salt and pepper

1 tbsp sugar

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

cassis (optional)

Peel and slice the onions very thin. Brown the onions in olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the sugar and cook, covered a few more minutes, to allow the sugar to caramelize slightly. Add the thyme, the red wine, the vinegars, and cassis, if you wish. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the liquid is cooked down to a syrup.

Makes about 2 cups.

We came to the farm for Easter and, low and behold, the rhubarb is coming out of the ground! Not surprising since it’s such an early bloomer, but it still amazes me each time I see its red and green leaves pushing out of the earth so early in the season. Doesn’t it know it could turn quite cold again? Alas, it’s a very hearty plant.

In honour of rhubarb’s robustness, initiative, and tenacity, I am going to give you an incredible compote recipe. It’s from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lutkins. I made it last spring, canned it, and enjoyed it until Christmas when my family wolfed it down one breakfast with rhubarb coffee cake (recipe to follow if I can figure out how to truly vegan-ize it). I wish I had made more.  It would be particularly scrumptious if you wait until the strawberries come into season. But perhaps you have some frozen from last season? Whatever the case, beware. This recipe is awesome and addictive.

10 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

4 cups hulled, halved strawberries

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup fresh orange juice

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tsps ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring once and skimming off any foam that forms on top, until the rhubarb is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Remove the vanilla bean and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate. It will keep for two days.