Split red lentils are the secret ingredient in this recipe. They bulk up the tomato sauce and make it a nutrient-packed super sauce! The lentils boost the protein and fibre in the sauce without compromising the flavour or texture. Also, if you let the red lentils cook down long enough you won't even be able to tell they are in there (perfect for picky eaters!).
Crunched for time? You can prepare this sauce in advance and store in the fridge or freezer so it will be ready to go the next time you need it. Or, you can even prepare a batch of caramelized onions in advance (& freeze in ice cube trays) and use a can of lentils in place of dried red lentils.
To top it off, this versatile sauce can be used as both a pasta and pizza sauce with some minor adjustments. If you're making a pizza sauce, you just need to add 1 tsp of sugar to the mix as this will cut through the acidity from the tomatoes. This small step will make all the difference between "pizza" and "pasta" sauces! This information can also be found at the end of the recipe directions.
This tomato sauce pairs perfectly with my homemade Italian pasta recipe (no pasta machine required)!
Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Pizza
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 260 g canned diced tomatoes
- Spices of your choice: Italian herbs (basil,oregano, thyme, marjoram, sage, etc...), crushed chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, allspice, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, etc...
- Pinch salt and pepper (sometimes I use soy sauce instead of salt)
- Fresh parsley or basil to taste, chopped
- ½ cup of dried split red lentils (swap out for cooked/canned lentils to cut some time)
- Extra veggies (optional): mushrooms, carrots, celery, zucchini, etc...
- Heat a pan with olive oil to medium heat.
- Add diced onions, coating them evenly in oil. If the pan seems dry, add more oil or a splash of water. Cover and let onions cook down for 30 minutes, checking on them regularly to make sure they are caramelizing and not burning. They are ready when they are nicely browned and soft, and cooked down to about a third of their original size.
- Add chopped garlic and sautée for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped veggies (if using) and sautée with garlic for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add your spices and cook for a few minutes until very fragrant, but not burnt.
- Add diced or pureed tomatoes, split red lentil (if using) and parsley or basil (if using), stirring well.
- Cook down tomatoes until they bind with the onions, forming a nice paste and the lentils are fully cooked (20-30 minutes). At this point, you can add more water for a thinner sauce.