stick to your noodles pasta sauce

Jessica Penner, RDEntree, Meatless, Recipes9 Comments

Stick to Your Noodles Pasta Sauce

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to make a homemade version of a pantry staple. I asked for your suggestions on the Smart Nutrition Facebook page. I received such wonderful ideas:

  • BBQ sauce
  • Mayo
  • Yogurt
  • Corn tortillas
  • Vegan chocolate syrup
  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Pizza sauce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Relish
  • Aged cheese
  • Olive oil

That last one was a joke but it actually had me thinking for a while… is it possible to make your own olive oil? The answer is no. Unless you have an olive tree growing in your backyard, which is impossible for me living in Canada.

I ended up deciding to post this pasta sauce recipe for this month’s challenge but I was so inspired by all your ideas that I’m definitely going to be experimenting with DIY versions of these suggestions in the next little while!

The reader who requested pasta sauce was specifically looking for a recipe that wasn’t soupy. While I have posted a really tasty recipe for a rather soupy-type spaghetti dish in the past, I understood what she meant. Sometimes you just want a sauce similar to the kind you buy in the jars!

why it’s a smart choice

No Added Sugar: some jarred pasta sauces contain added sugar. It’s rather unnecessary when you can flavour it nicely with aromatics such as onions and garlic, and herbs and spices.

Controlled Sodium: when you make your own food, you gain full control over the ingredients. Most convenience foods have more sodium than you really need.

Added Veggies: we could all use more veggies in our lives. This recipe adds in finely chopped and shredded veggies to the sauce.

Iron Powerhouse: the recipe is fantastic for anyone at risk of iron deficiency. Who’s that, you might ask? Pretty much anyone other than adult males have the tendency to become low in iron. One serving of this dish (flexitarian version) gives you 6.3g of iron.

Hypertensive Healthy: there’s increasing evidence that the potassium to sodium ratio in the diet is more important than the total amount of sodium one consumes. This recipe has 30% more potassium than sodium.

If you give this recipe a go, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or snap a photo and tag it with #smartnutritionrecipes on Instagram!  I’d love to see your creations! Knowing someone has enjoyed one of my recipes always makes my day brighter.  


Stick to Your Noodles Pasta Sauce

  • Author: Jessica Penner, RD
  • Yield: 8 servings


A hearty pasta sauce filled with veggies.


  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp whole or crushed fennel
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp beef or vegetarian bouillon paste (I like the Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 can (156 ml or 5 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 cans (398ml or 13.5 oz each) tomato sauce (pureed tomatoes)
  • 1 can (540 ml) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb of pan-fried ground beef (for flexitarian and meatatarian option)


  1. From the notes below, choose which option you want to make.
  2. In a medium to large sized pot, heat the oil over medium low.
  3. Add in the onions, celery, and carrot. Saute until the onions are soft.
  4. Add in the chili flakes, fennel, oregano, basil, and garlic. Saute 2 minutes.
  5. Add in the bouillon paste, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and stir to combine.
  6. Add in the lentils and parmesan cheese.
  7. Stir until heated through. Remove from heat.
  8. Can be served immediately but tastes best if made a day in advance and the flavours are allowed to develop in the fridge. Alternatively, it could be frozen and heated when needed!
  9. Read below for serving ideas for different styles of eating.


Vegan: Omit parmesan cheese. May replace with nutritional yeast.

Vegetarian: Make the recipe as is!

Flexitarian: Add in 1 lb of pan-fried lean ground beef.

Meatatarian:  Omit lentils and add 1 lb of pan-fried lean ground beef.

Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta.

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