This rich satisfying easy vegan marinara sauce is oil-free and made in one pot with just eight ingredients. Minimal chopping required!
I love Marcela Hazan’s tomato sauce, so simple and rich. It does contain butter though, and I need most of our pasta sauces to be dairy-free as my son is allergic to all dairy products.
I’ve used Hazan’s recipe, albeit a vegan version, as the base for this really easy vegan marinara sauce that I can just throw in the pan on weekday nights.
Most of the time people recommend substituting the butter with olive oil but I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for me. Instead, I use a small amount of coconut milk.
Most people don’t know that coconut milk will actually cook down and helps give that buttery unctuous mouth-feel in vegan sauces. You definitely can’t taste it either in the small amount used here.
Chuck all the ingredients in a pan walk away, come back 45 minutes later and your rich hearty healthy vegan marinara sauce will be ready and waiting for you. If gorgeous tasty pasta sauces are your thing, I’d also recommend you check out my other pasta recipes:
- The best arrabbiata sauce recipe
- Fresh green sauce for pasta
- 10-minute vegan roasted red pepper sauce
- Easy zucchini marinara
- Easy vegan lentil bolognese
- 20-minute vegan pumpkin pasta
- No-boil pumpkin pasta bake
What to serve it with
Vegan marinara sauce can be served with:
- Pasta (my favorite is spaghetti)
- Vegan meatballs
- Vegan garlic bread
- Vegan suppli (as a dip)
- Vegan cabbage rolls
It’s also great used in vegan lasagna or as a sauce on pizza!
How to make it
Vegan marinara sauce is so easy to make that you barely require any instructions! Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to read through this section before making the recipe, especially if you’re a beginner cook.
First, gather your ingredients, which you can see in the image on the left below. Hazan’s recipe for tomato sauce calls for canned whole tomatoes that can then be smashed with a spoon later on. I’ve made this marinara sauce with canned whole tomatoes, canned chopped tomatoes and canned crushed tomatoes.
There was very little flavor difference, just a difference in texture. I use crushed tomatoes because I prefer a smoother sauce, but you can absolutely choose to use whole or chopped ones, and then mash (or not mash) to get your preferred texture.
Whichever type of canned tomatoes you use, make sure they are high quality. I recommend any San Romano DOP, or the Muir Glen or Pomi brands.
Next, peel your two onions and chop in half. I use two small onions rather than one big one because I find the onion gets softer. If you don’t have any small onions just use one large one chopped into quarters.
Peel and finely grate the carrot, finely chop the fresh basil, and crush the garlic. For garlic you can use between one to three fat cloves. Three will give a strong garlic flavor which I love but which may not be for everyone so choose according to your love of garlic!
Add the prepared garlic and carrot along with the canned tomatoes, coconut milk and dried herbs to a medium-sized saucepan.
Note that I don’t recommend using light coconut milk as you need the fat in this recipe (which is actually reasonably low calorie anyway). Yes you do need both dried basil and fresh basil as they have quite different flavor profiles.
Mix well and drop in the halved onions – you don’t want to add the onions before mixing because you’ll run the risk of separating the layers and having to fish for them later.
Heat on high, and when the sauce begins to gently bubble, reduce to medium-low. If your cooker has a range of nine, for example, numbers 3-4 would be considered medium-low.
You want the sauce to just gently simmer away for a good 45 minutes. Walk away, prepare your pasta etc. but don’t stir the sauce.
After 45 minutes, take out the onions and taste for salt. This sauce usually doesn’t need much salt at all, personally I would only add a quarter teaspoon, and not all the time as it already tastes salty. Stir in the finely chopped fresh basil.
Serve with the pasta or dish of choice (you know you want spaghetti) or decant to a tightly sealed container. When cool move to the fridge, where it will keep for up to five days, or freeze for up to three months.
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Easy Vegan Marinara Sauce
Rich and tasty with a creamy mouth-feel, this vegan marinara sauce is also healthy and very easy to make. Perfect for a relaxed weeknight meal!
- 2 small onions
- 1 - 3 cloves garlic (see notes)
- 1 small carrot (around 80g)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves (8g)
- 28oz canned tomatoes (crushed, chopped or whole, 800g)
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk (120ml)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Peel and halve the onions, crush the garlic, peel and finely grate the carrot and finely chop the fresh basil.
- Add the crushed garlic, grated carrot, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, and dried herbs to a saucepan and mix well.
- Drop in the onion halves cut side down and push to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Bring to a slow simmer on high heat and then reduce to medium-low and leave to cook uncovered for 45 minutes (no need to stir).
- Take out the onions. Stir through the chopped basil, taste for salt and add a little freshly ground black pepper. Toss with pasta to serve.
Garlic should be added to your preference. One clove till produce a very mild garlic note while three will give a strong garlic flavor.
You can use any type of canned tomatoes depending on whether you prefer your sauce chunkier or smoother. If you use chopped or whole tomatoes you can also smash them more with a fork or blend the sauce if you prefer it smooth.
This sauce will keep in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag in the fridge for up to five days, and the freezer for up to three months.
Amount Per Serving Calories 111Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 386mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 5gSugar 7gProtein 3g
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