Measuring spoons

A pinch of thyme and rosemary take your spice blend for this tomato sauce to the next level.

You may already be planning for your turkey dinner, but if you have a lot of family around for the week, you might also want to think about other, possibly lighter, dinner options for the crowd.

Here’s a fresh and easy alternative to traditional homemade tomato ragù. This delightful sauce features Roma tomatoes (a.k.a. plum tomatoes). The recipe pairs the sauce with the pasta of your choice, and button mushrooms create an umami base that might otherwise be fulfilled by meat in a slow-cooked ragù.

The tomato sauce is cooked very quickly, so it retains a bright flavor, and using plum tomatoes keeps the moisture level low. A small dollop of tomato paste cooked in at the end helps thicken the sauce.

Depending on your tastes, the sauce can be served chunky, or you can use a stick blender to break up the tomato bits for a smooth sauce.

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12 oz pasta

Cook pasta according to the instructions.

Spice blend

Pinch dried thyme

Pinch dried rosemary

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp dried chives

½ tsp salt

Prepare the spice blend in a mortar and pestle, or a small, clean coffee bean blender/grinder.

If using a blender, add all ingredients and blend until the mixture turns to powder.

If using a mortar and pestle, grind thyme and rosemary to break them down. Add all other ingredients and continue to grid until the mixture is a fine powder.

Keep extra spice blend in a sealed container for other meals.

Sautéd Mushrooms

Small pack button mushrooms, washed

2 tbsp red wine

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp spice blend

In small sauté pan, warm olive oil over high heat (about 30 seconds).

Add whole button mushrooms and sauté until liquid starts to separate from mushrooms.

Turn heat to low.

Add spice blend, wine, and salt. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Turn heat to high and cook, stirring until most of the liquid evaporates and thickens.

Add butter (optional) and cook for one more minute.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Tomato Sauce

9 plum (Roma) tomatoes, each chopped into eight large chunks

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 ½ tsp spice blend

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp no salt tomato paste

In large sauté pan, warm olive oil over high heat (about 30 seconds).

Add garlic and salt, sauté for about 15 seconds (don’t let garlic get brown).

Immediately add chopped tomatoes and cook on high heat for two minutes, stirring constantly.

Turn heat to low, cover and simmer three minutes.

Add spice blend and tomato paste and stir.

Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Optional: Use a stick blender to break down tomato chunks into a smooth sauce.

Mix pasta, tomato sauce and mushrooms together. Serve with fresh, grated Parmesan cheese.

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