Slow Cooker Freezer Spaghetti Veggie Sauce

Confession time.  Once upon a time, when I had moved into my own place for the first time, I was a Lean Cuisine junkie.  Two friends visited once and looked in my freezer and laughed for about 10 minutes.  It was full of Lean Cuisine frozen meals.  I deserved to be laughed at.  Living frozen dinners is no way to live a healthy lifestyle.  Not long after, I changed my ways.  Since I still needed convenient meals as i juggled two jobs, I switched to cooking larger batches of soups and freezing individual portions.  Chili soup is one of my favorites to freeze because it reheats so well and pretty much contains all the elements of a complete meal.

I now rarely buy frozen meals, and I’ve at least upgraded to Amy’s Organic meals instead of Lean Cuisine.  And I’ve expanded my freezer repertoire.  English muffins and pumpkin muffins are regular residents of my freezer.  And now I’ve added homemade spaghetti sauce.  I found this recipe through a list of “lazy vegetarian recipes.”  Someone who knows me pretty well sent me that list!  This recipe requires about an hour to chop the veggies by hand but then you get to sit back and let it cook in the slow cooker all day without touching it.

As usual, I adjusted the recipe based on my tastes and turned out an amazing sauce that works so well in any Italian dish.  I added another onion, extra garlic, used some fire-roasted tomatoes, and added some red lentils.  I will likely increase the red lentils in future renditions.  They disappear completely into the sauce and add some richness and protein.

We’ve used this sauce on pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, and more.  It tastes fresh and rich and doesn’t have all the added sodium and sugar that your favorite jarred sauce likely has.  And with the bountiful basket of veggies, you can totally count this as a serving of vegetables on your pasta!

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Slow Cooker Freezer Spaghetti Veggie Sauce

Makes a TON

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 7 carrots
  • 2-3 bell peppers (green, red, or yellow–pick your favorite, or use them all!)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cups diced mushrooms
  • 3 large (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes (I used 2 regular and 1 fire-roasted one)
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red lentils

Instructions

1. Dice up all of the vegetables.  If you plan to puree the sauce, don’t worry too much about the size and shapes.  If you’d like to leave it chunky, then make the veggies the size you’d be happy to have in your finished sauce.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large crockpot, 6-7 quarts.  If you don’t know how big your crockpot is, check or measure and adjust the size of the recipe to fit your crockpot.

3. Cook on high for 2 hours and then reduce heat to low for a total of 8 hours.  If you can’t be there to adjust the heat, then cook on low for 10 hours.

4. When it’s finished, you can choose to puree the sauce completely or partially using a stick blender or traditional blender.  Then enjoy your first scoops over fresh pasta or some homemade gnocchi.  Portion the rest into freezer-safe containers or bags and allow to cool completely before freezing.  Be sure to label with what it is and a date so you don’t end up tossing mystery containers months later!

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