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Italian pasta sauce, pasta sauce, marinara, red gravy, recipe, vegan, vegetarian, whole food plant based, wfpb, gluten free, oil free, refined sugar free, no oil, no refined sugar, no dairy, dinner, lunch, dinner party, entertaining, simple, healthy

Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce

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  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5 Cups 1x
  • Cuisine: Italian


This amazing Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce will make an Italian grandmother proud.  A fabulous Whole Food Plant Based recipe. Oil free, sugar free, and no highly processed ingredients.


  • 1 large onion, fine mince
  • 1 large carrot, fine mince
  • 1 large celery stalk, fine mince
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon garlic, fine mince
  • 128 oz. can San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 18 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch red pepper flake (+/- to taste)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt (+/- more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda*
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup (optional)*
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened plant milk)*
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (optional)*


  1. Place a peeled onion, peeled carrot, and celery stalk into a food processor and pulse until very fine. Do not over pulse.  You want the pieces extremely tiny without pureeing them.
  2. In a large ceramic-lined Dutch oven or similar stock pot, add the finely minced vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery) and diced sauté until they begin to soften, approx. 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté a few minutes. If needed to prevent sticking, add 1- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable broth or water.
  4. Stir in the water, vegetable stock, tomato sauce and tomato paste.
  5. Place the San Marzano tomatoes into the food processor and puree, then add to the pot.
  6. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the red pepper flakes, baking soda, maple syrup, nutritional yeast and unsweetened almond milk.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
  8. Remove half the sauce and place it into a high-speed blender and pulverize for several minutes, then return to the pot. If you are looking for a completely smooth tomato sauce, repeat until all the sauce has been pulverized.  We only pulverized half the sauce and left the other half with the tiny bits of seasoning.
  9. Next add the red pepper flake, maple syrup, baking soda, nutritional yeast, and unsweetened almond milk and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or up to an hour.
  10. Test the seasoning, add more as needed.
  11. Serve over your favorite pasta.


*Baking Soda:  Using a tiny bit of baking soda will help neutralize some of the acid from the tomatoes.

*Maple Syrup:  Using a tiny bit of maple syrup adds the tiniest bit of sweetness to accent the tomatoes. 

*Almond Milk:  Using unsweetened almond milk will mellow out the tomatoes. We found it necessary to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes as there is no oil in the recipe.  This really helps to neutralize and balance out the tomatoes acidity.

*Nutritional Yeast:  Using nutritional yeast offers just a hint of what Parmesan cheese would add to the flavor.  It is completely optional, but add a nice depth of flavor.