Are you looking for a quick and healthy tomato sauce recipe that makes a great meal? I always felt like dumping a jar over my pasta was fine but a little bit lacking in the nutrition department. My superfood tomato sauce has a lot more than just tomatoes. It has texture, flavor, fiber, and heart healthy nutrients without the salt. And it doesn’t require standing at the stove for hours!
For the Love of Tomatoes
I LOVE tomato sauce (or gravy, as some say) for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that I am Italian American.
I grew up on pasta with fresh, flavorful tomato sauce. I mean, how can anyone deny that tomato sauce is amazing???
- It’s yummy!
- It can be a quick meal, or a fancy meal.
- Kids like it.
- It’s a great meal for dinner guests.
- It’s relatively inexpensive.
- It can be made ahead of time.
- It’s easy to double, or triple, or quadruple! to feed lots of people.
- And, it will always be comfort food to me.
Tomato Sauce is Good For You
It is good for you! My tomato sauce is really really good for you!
Now, I’m not saying all tomato sauce is healthy. If you base your sauce on fatty meats and add a lot of salt, it’s anything but healthy! I have seen some really unhealthy tomato sauce out there.
But you know what? Those greasy, heavy sauces really don’t taste that good. Mine is so much better!
Tomato Sauce is Nutrient Rich
The CHF Dietitian’s sauce is chock full of colorful veggies, garlic, and spices. White beans give a little protein punch. The veggies and herbs provide fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s low in fat, and the fats that are in there are heart healthy.
Fresh tomato sauce can be a meal in itself! Ask my kids, who loved to fill up on crusty bread dipped in sauce.
Why did I call it a superfood tomato sauce???
You may think that the Swiss chard is the superfood in this recipe. Swiss chard is really good for you, especially if you have heart failure. It’s a great source of nitrates, which have many heart health benefits. (See my blog post on Beets!)
Garlic has long been known to have health benefits, as do beans! Lots of candidates for the superfood title.
The truth is that I always add some greens in there because they are especially heart healthy and sometimes avoided because of their strong taste. My family can get tired of salads and I like to work greens in wherever I can.
So…I use the word “superfoods” with a grain of salt, so to speak. :). I don’t believe in touting any one vegetable or fruit as a superfood since all provide health benefits.
The key is to get a variety of vegetables–different colors, textures, and nutrient profiles.
In that way, this sauce, and not any one ingredient, is the real superfood.
You’re In Control
Making tomato sauce can take a little time, but it’s really quite simple and worth the effort.
- You choose the ingredients, so you control the nutrition!
- You choose the seasonings, so you control the sodium, or LACK OF SODIUM, because this sauce hardly has any.
- You choose the type and quantity of oil, so you control the fats.
- And you choose the QUANTITY that you make. Double or triple the recipe and store in the freezer.
You Don’t Have to Perfect
And tomato sauce is a forgiving recipe. You don’t have to have perfect measurements. You can adjust it, add some more of this, or less of that. Add in that celery stalk or the squash hanging out in the fridge. Grab a handful of spinach and toss it in. You really can’t mess this up.
In fact, I had to work hard to make this recipe while I wrote down how! I probably never make it the same two times in a row. This time I added in some canned tomato for the base of this sauce, but you can make it with 100% fresh tomatoes as well.
Now that you’ve channeled your inner Italian, let’s get chopping!
For info on low sodium jarred sauce, clink the link to this jarred tomato sauce comparison. And don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list to get my free guide to eating out while on a low sodium diet!
Low Sodium Superfood Tomato Sauce
- 1 Large Sauce Pan 5-8 quart
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Chopping knife
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 4 cloves fresh garlic chopped–can use more!
- 6-8 medium tomatoes roma or vine ripened
- 1 ,28 oz can low sodium diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 yellow squash diced or sliced in coins
- 3-4 leaves Swiss chard chopped
- 1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed to get rid of sodium!
- ¾ tsp black pepper be generous if you'd like some zing
- 1 tbsp dried basil can use 1/4 c fresh chopped
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1-2 tsp parsley can use 1/4 c fresh chopped
- ¼ cup red wine *optional
- Heat olive oil over low/medium heat in a saucepan. Watch carefully as olive oil can easily burn and smoke.
- Add in onion and saute for one minute. Then add garlic and stir for another minute. Raise the heat a bit, but be careful not to burn.
- Add yellow squash and saute for another minute or two.
- Add fresh chopped or blended tomatoes. (You can choose to blend the tomatoes in a blender if you want a smoother sauce. If you want it really chunky, coarsely chop.)
- Add the can of tomatoes with juices.
- Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer.
- Add your pepper, basil, oregano, and parsely and simmer for an hour.Add your wine if you choose. I loosely cover mine but it's not necessary.
- Add in the chopped swiss chard and the cannelini beans, and cook for 5 more minutes.
- This makes enough for 1 pound of your favorite pasta. I alternate between standard pasta or a legume based pasta like the red lentil pasta pictured above.
- You can use any veggies you'd like. In the past, I've added zucchini, spinach, celery, eggplant, and mushrooms.*The calories are estimated per serving. They are a bit more than plain marinara sauce due to the beans, and the relatively large serving size. The sodium content is less than 100mg per serving.