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This recipe was inspired by this test-kitchen article in Cooks Illustrated magazine, in which they tested all manners of plant-based ground beef alternatives for marinara sauce including nuts, lentils, bulgar, mushrooms, beans, eggplant, and cauliflower. Mushrooms and chickpeas came out as clear winners for texture and flavor. This is my interpretation of their findings.

This recipe made a chunky, flavorful, delicious marinara that would be excellent on roasted eggplant, zuchinni, or spaghetti squash, spiralized veggie “noodles”, polenta, or lentil pasta, and would pair beautifully with veggie sausage, pine nuts, or plant-based ricotta. See the meal suggestions at the bottom of this post.

This also was fairly quick to make, because of using the food processor to chop everything. I barely had to use a knife.

Meatless Meaty Marinara

  • Servings: Makes about 66 oz, 6 servings, or about 8 cups
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Each 11 oz Serving Contains:

  • 4 oz Veggies
  • 1/4 Protein Serving
  • 1 Fat Serving

Ingredients

Veggie Serving

  • 10 oz raw mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion (about 11 oz raw)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)

Protein Serving

  • 9 oz cooked chickpeas (about one 15-oz can, drained and rinsed) (contributes 1.5 protein servings)

Fat Serving

  • 3 oz olive oil (6 fat servings)

Condiments & Spices

  • 16 oz (2 cups) vegetable broth
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • Dash of red pepper flakes (according to heat preference)
  • 2.5 oz (about 1/4 cup) tomato paste
  • Chopped fresh basil to garnish

Directions

  1. Dice mushrooms, or pulse in a food processor to get small-ish chunks.
  2. Weigh the oil and add it to a heavy bottomed pan.
  3. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until moisture has evaporated and they are well-browned.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the onion the same way by pulsing in food processor.
  5. Add onion to the pot with the mushrooms and continue to cook on medium-high heat.
  6. Add tomato paste garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a deep-rust color, about 1 minute.
  7. Add in tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer.
  8. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. While the sauce simmers, pulse chickpeas in the food processor a few times until chopped into small pieces. Not too fine, you want the chunky texture! This isn’t hummus!
  10. Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer after chopping to remove as much starchiness as possible.
  11. Add the chickpeas the sauce and simmer until has thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
  12. Garnish with basil, salt, and pepper.


Meal Suggestions

Variations:

  • For a protein-less marinara, replace 9 oz of chickpeas with 9 oz of jarred marinara sauce, tomatoes, diced onions, or eggplant. Then one 11 oz serving of sauce will contain no protein, and 5.5 oz of veggies.

Below are some ideas for additions to complete this meal:

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