Saturday, April 28, 2012

Soy-Free Saturday: Pasta Sauce (Dave, avert your eyes)

Today's soy-free Saturday is about marinara sauce.  I was really surprised awhile ago to find that the brand that I had been using, as well as many other mainstream brands, use soybean oil in their pasta sauce.

Somehow, even though soy is in so very many things, I wasn't expecting that one.

However, I found that the light version of Tomato & Basil Ragu, with no sugar added, does not contain soy oil!  And actually, it has also become one of my favorite tasting sauces as well.  It seems to taste....lighter, somehow.  More fresh?  Anyway, I like it.

I am surrounded by carnivores at my house (case in point, I heard my boys making up songs about steak and mashed potatoes the other day!), so spaghetti sauce without meat would make for a sad group for dinner.  However, we always have a supply of hormone-free beef on hand since we buy it once a year from a local farmer, so I just brown some of that and throw it in, simmer for a bit, and viola! It's done. Just make sure you also use soy-free pasta (I know that Target's brand of whole-wheat pasta uses only flour) to make it a great meal!

However....I have wanted to take this a step further and make my own spaghetti sauce.  Then I'd really know what was in it! Also, I had been wanting to add beans to the meat in the sauce.  They add fiber and protein, so you'd stay full for longer, and they help to stretch the package of beef a bit further.

But if the carnivores found out what I was trying, there might have been a revolt.  So I surreptitiously took a few photos while doing my sneaky business in the kitchen.

I'm not posting this as a recipe, because this was a first-time experiment, and I'm sure there are many seasoned sauce makers out there who could give you better tips than I.

However, I had a lot of fun in the kitchen.

I started out with two frozen bags of blanched tomatoes (from last year's garden!) from the freezer, and set them on the stove to thaw, then simmer.  I added lots of seasonings, like parsley, rosemary, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Then I started browning my beef, and here's where I really had to move carefully lest I be seen: I opened a can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed them, and added about half of them to the beef to cook and absorb beefy flavor.  I'll probably try a few more next time.

Once it was pretty well cooked (don't worry, I see the pink spots in the picture and I finished cooking it!), they started to blend in a little better.

Then I added the tomato stuff to the beef, and let it simmer for awhile, and I think I added just a little bit of olive oil. Finally, it wasn't really thickening up like I wanted it to, and I didn't have time to let it simmer down anymore, so I just added some cornstarch (dissolved in a little cold water first) to the mixture.  Within about a minute, it was thickened, and ready to serve!


The whole family liked it, and nobody caught the beans.

topped with a 5-cheese Italian blend. 


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