Marinara sauce is so versatile. I have a few versions that I make, and I always try to use seasonal ingredients as much as possible in my cooking. Since it is of course fall, AKA Pumpkin season, I wanted to make a pumpkin marinara sauce. I love adding different veggies to my tomato sauces, and each variation has a different flavor profile. Pumpkin has a slight sweetness to it, and it makes the sauce a bit thicker (perfect for a hearty pasta dish or lasagna).
No matter what variation I’m making, I always start out with lots of fresh sautéed garlic and onion. For me, this is key for a good pasta sauce. I also always use a fair amount of fresh basil, because dried basil just doesn’t quite add the same flavor profile. I added some oregano and nutmeg to this sauce, as it really complemented the pumpkin here. These two additions brought out the savory notes.
Rather than adding sugar to this sauce, as I do sometimes to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, I added some coconut aminos and balsamic. These two additions rounded out the flavor here. If you’re looking to keep this sauce dairy free, then you can omit the Parmesan cheese, but if you’re not I’d recommend adding it for an extra punch. You could also sub the Parmesan with a dairy free Parmesan. I always add a few dashes of hot sauce, and I used sriracha in this recipe, but you could use any hot sauce. The hot sauce doesn’t add heat to the sauce, but it does help to really emphasize the spices.
The first time I made this, I tossed it with some pasta, mozzarella balls, fresh basil and spinach. It was a delicious meal indeed. I also made my boyfriend some ravioli tossed in this sauce and he devoured it. If you wanted to make this a full meal, then adding some ground meat would be perfect. Just brown the meat with the onions and garlic and make the rest as instructed. No special tools needed, just a cutting board, a knife and a sauté pan!