Gluten Free Pasta Sauce

Delicious gluten free pasta sauce that is tasty, easy to make, economical, and very versatile! It’s great to have a few recipes up your sleeve that you can whip out when you have family or friends visiting who have dietary restrictions.

This is a really yummy, easy recipe that I’m sure you’ll find yourself making again and again.

The pasta sauce is served in a bowl on top of gluten free spaghetti with fresh basil leaves

If you are making this for kids (big or small) and want to hide some extra vegetables in it, go for it – I often do!

Ingredients

ingredients prepared and ready to make the sauce

Tomatoes – My regular readers will know that I usually try to use fresh ingredients where possible, but – like all ‘rules’ – there are always some exceptions. In this instance, canned crushed tomatoes are the exception.

When I look at the ingredients on a can of crushed tomatoes, the only ingredient is… tomatoes! There’s no added sugar or salt – it’s only tomatoes. So if you have the time or inclination to poach fresh tomatoes, you’re very welcome to do so, but personally I’m happy to go with canned crushed tomatoes here. This recipe calls for 28oz (800 grams) crushed tomatoes.

Ground beef – I added 1 pound (500 grams) ground beef because my family enjoys it. However it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the beef out if you want to make a vegetarian or vegan option.

Onion – I used 1 large brown onion, but the recipe is very flexible, so if you really like onion, you’re welcome to add more. Alternatively, if you’re not keen on it, you can leave it out altogether – no problem.

Garlic – As you might know, my family and I really love garlic and so I always tend to use quite a lot of it. I have written 3 cloves on the recipe card, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I actually used 6 cloves!

Vegetables – In this recipe, I grated 1 carrot and 1 red pepper (capsicum), and very finely diced 1 zucchini (courgette). They were the vegetables that I had in my refrigerator, but you can add whatever takes your fancy. I’ll include a list of vegetable suggestions at the end. Also, please note that I grated and very finely chopped my vegetables so that my very fussy son couldn’t pick them out of his dinner! If your family/ children are better eaters, you can just slice the vegetables.

Olive oil – I used olive oil and I do really prefer it most of the time because of its very light flavor, but if you don’t have any in your pantry, you can substitute in almost any vegetable oil here.

Herbs (basil, oregano) – You’ll see from my photos that I’ve used a combination of fresh and dried herbs. I usually try to use fresh ingredients when I can, but in all honesty, I’m all about being practical. If that means, dried herbs, I’m absolutely fine with that! Today I used dried basil and oregano, as well as some fresh basil to stir through towards the end of the cooking process and as a garnish at the end.

Spices (salt & pepper) – I have salt & pepper grinders from the supermarket that I like to use, but you should use whatever you have on hand.


Red wine/ water – I didn’t have any red wine (that I was willing to cook with!) when I made this, so I used water. The alcohol content in the red wine burns off with the heat when cooking, leaving a little extra richness that you don’t get from water. However, I don’t recommend you use your best red in a recipe!

Parmesan cheese – I used a store-bought grated Parmesan this time because I already had it in the refrigerator. If you have fresh Parmesan, then that would be a really yummy addition to this recipe. Of course, if you’re looking to make a vegan pasta sauce, please leave out the Parmesan, or use one of the many delicious vegan cheese alternatives.

Sugar – just 1 teaspoon of sugar cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes and ‘softens the edges’ of the taste a little. Leave it out if you’d prefer.

Pasta – the whole recipe is gluten free so if you are going to serve the sauce over pasta for your gluten intolerant family or friends, please don’t forget to use gluten free pasta! My family loves cavatelli pasta, but the semolina does contain gluten. Alternatively, you could serve the pasta sauce over mashed potato (or mashed sweet potato), quinoa, or rice.

Directions

pasta sauce cooking in a frying pan

Start the pasta sauce by lightly sauteeing the chopped onion in a large pan with the olive oil over a medium heat. Just 2 or 3 minutes is plenty because you don’t want the onion to brown – just soften a little before you start adding the other ingredients. Stir pretty consistently so the onion doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the ground beef to the pan before you add the garlic and herbs. I stirred the onion and ground beef together in the pan for a few minutes until the beef was all broken up and was no longer pink.

Then add in the garlic and dried herbs and stir everything together constantly for about 1 minute. You’ll be able to smell the beautiful aroma of the garlic mixed with the basil and oregano – it’s a sign of good things to come!

Dried herbs added to frying pan and mixed with spatula
Adding garlic and dried herbs to sauce

Before the garlic starts to brown, add in the tomatoes, red wine (or water), salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir while bringing all ingredients to the boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low.

Allow the sauce to simmer slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You might like to use a teaspoon to taste-test the sauce and see if you need to add a little more salt or herbs, depending on your preferences. During this time, the sauce will begin the thicken a little as some of the moisture evaporates.

After about 20 minutes, boil a large pot of lightly salted water on the stove if you’re going to serve the sauce over gluten free pasta. When the water has boiled, add the pasta and cook until ‘al dente’, as Italians would say – or ‘just done’ or literally ‘still firm’. Remember that the pasta will continue to soften a little when you spoon piping hot pasta sauce over the top of it.

At about the same time as I put the salted water on to boil in preparation for the gluten free pasta, I added the grated carrot, grated zucchini, and finely diced red pepper (capsicum) to the sauce. 

The last 10 minutes of simmer time is all that the carrot, zucchini, and red pepper need to ‘catch up’ to the rest of the ingredients, so then you can continue with the directions as above.

If you have some fresh basil leaves, you can start to use them towards the end of the 30 minute simmer time. Pile up the basil leaves into one stack, then slice all together into thin strips. You can add about half to the sauce and stir in, but keep the other half to use later as a garnish.

Strain the pasta well. Then you can either stir the pasta through the sauce, OR serve the pasta and then scoop the sauce over the top – either method is absolutely fine. You’ll see in my photos that I have gone with the second option on this occasion because I think it looks better in photos 😉

Finally, garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and some of those leftover fresh basil leaves that you cut earlier – and you’re done! Fresh, tasty, easy gluten free pasta sauce in around 30 minutes.

Pasta Alternatives

You can see in my photos that I served my sauce over pasta (gluten free, of course!), but you do have several options when it comes to serving.

Firstly, both potato and sweet potato are naturally gluten free, so if you’re looking for something a bit different, or if – like me – you’re keen to add a vegetable or two to the meal – then serving the pasta sauce over mashed potato and/ or mashed sweet potato might be a good option for you.

Alternatively, quinoa and rice are also both naturally gluten free. Cook each as per the package directions. (Quinoa cooks very similarly to rice.)

The pasta sauce is served in a bowl on top of gluten free spaghetti with fresh basil leaves

Gluten Free Pasta Sauce Recipe

Delicious gluten free pasta sauce that is tasty, easy to make, economical, and very versatile!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • large frying pan

Ingredients
  

  • 28 ounces tomatoes – canned, crushed (800 grams)
  • 1 pound ground beef (500 grams) Optional, see discussion to make this vegetarian.
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic Add more if you love garlic like I do!
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 red pepper, diced (capsicum)
  • 1 zucchini
  • olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup red wine Substitute water if you don't have red wine.
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions
 

  • Add onion and olive oil to the hot frying pan. Sautee onion for 3 minutes. Stir regularly so onion doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and stir the onion and ground beef together in the pan for a few minutes until the beef was all broken up and was no longer pink.
  • Then add in the garlic and dried herbs and stir everything together constantly for about 1 minute.
  • Before the garlic starts to brown, add in the tomatoes, red wine (or water), salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir while bringing all ingredients to the boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. During this time, the sauce will begin the thicken a little as some of the moisture evaporates.
  • After about 20 minutes, boil a large pot of lightly salted water on the stove if you’re going to serve the sauce over gluten free pasta. When the water has boiled, add the pasta and cook.
  • At the same time as I put the salted water on to boil in preparation for the gluten free pasta, I added the grated carrot, grated zucchini, and finely diced red pepper (capsicum) to the sauce.
  • The last 10 minutes of simmer time is all that the carrot, zucchini, and red pepper need to ‘catch up’ to the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add fresh basil to the sauce just before serving.
  • Serve the pasta sauce on the pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Notes

Other vegetables you can add into the sauce if you wish: 
  • Corn kernels
  • Sliced green beans
  • Small broccoli and/ or cauliflower florets
  • Finely diced button squash
  • Snow peas (mange tout)
  • Large red chillies (if you like it spicy!)
  • Finely sliced celery
 
Keyword gluten free pasta sauce

1 thought on “Gluten Free Pasta Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    Very nice, thanks for the suggestion of sweet potato, I did not realize it is gluten free, I will try that next time.

    Reply

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