Paula and I met with our friends from “dinner group” today. It was our turn to bring the main dish. Some of our friends are vegetarian so I chose a recipe for a hearty “meat-less” tomato sauce to make. It was a recipe that I found in the most recent issue of Cooks Illustrated. Everyone enjoyed the meal and we even had enough left over for Paula and I to enjoy the sauce for dinner again in the future. Everyone likes pasta (most of the time…) so if you have some vegetarians coming over for dinner, you may want to try this sauce.


  • 10 ounces of cremini mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil

Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until they are chopped into 1/4 inch pieces, about 8-10 pulses.

Heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally. The mushrooms should lose most of their moisture and start to brown.

Pulse the onion in the food processor until it is finely chopped with the pieces about 1/4-inch in size. Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook. Stir occasionally until the onions are softened, about 5-6 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, mix 1 tablespoon of the oil with the oregano, red pepper and garlic in a small bowl. After the onion has softened, push the onion-mushroom mixture to the side of the Dutch oven. Add the garlic mixture to the middle of the pot and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the tomatoes and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil using high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pulse the chickpeas in the food processor. Transfer the chickpeas to a mesh strainer. Run water over the chickpeas until the water turns clear. Add the chickpeas to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Add the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over the pasta of your choice.

I cooked several pounds of linguine to serve with the sauce for our friends. This sauce is incredibly easy to make. You don’t even have to use a lot of pots. You chop everything in the food processor and you don’t even have to rinse between uses! The chickpeas and mushrooms make it a hearty sauce and you might even fool your guests in to thinking that they are eating a meat sauce!