3 Vegetarian Sauce Recipes

Annette McDermott
Spaghetti with pesto sauce and basil

Vegetarians need great homemade sauce recipes in their stockpile. Whether rich and creamy or light and spicy, sauces are versatile and an easy way to add pizzazz and flavor to vegetarian foods.

Vegetarian Recipes for Sauce

There are dozens if not hundreds of vegetarian and vegan sauce recipes, but if you have a few basic recipes, it's easy to build upon them. For the most part, sauces are forgiving, and you can easily stretch the servings by adding a cup of liquid.

Red Sauce

Red sauce

Red sauce may be used over pasta, on veggie or bean burgers, in vegetarian chili, on pizza, drizzled over roasted or grilled veggies, or as a dipping sauce for bread or crudites. This sauce makes 10 to 11 cups, leaving plenty leftover to freeze for later.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large red peppers, diced
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high until it shimmers. Add the red peppers and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not mushy.
  2. Stir in the garlic and herbs; cook an additional minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper; bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend.

The longer you simmer this hearty sauce, the more flavorful it becomes. If it becomes too thick, add a cup of tomato juice, tomato sauce, or water.

White Sauce

White sauce

White sauce, also known as bechamel, is a culinary staple. Use it in vegetables lasagna, on pizza, poured over vegetables, or in vegetables casseroles. This recipe makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine (or butter if not vegan)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch or whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups milk (or non-dairy milk such as soy, almond, or rice milk for vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

  1. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is soft, about a minute.
  2. Sprinkle the mixture with the cornstarch or flour and stir until a paste forms.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk, herbs, and spices (except nutmeg). Bring the sauce to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and add the dash of nutmeg, if desired.
  5. To make a vegetarian cheese sauce, add 1/2 cup grated non-dairy cheese or parmesan cheese. If sauce is too thick, thin with a little more milk.

Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce

Pesto sauce made from basil and raw nuts is rich, creamy, sinful, and classically vegetarian. This recipe is delicious on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, and lasagna. The recipe makes about 1- 1/2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (for vegan) or parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except salt and pepper to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

You can substitute walnuts for pine nuts in this recipe. You may also use kale, arugula, or other dark greens instead of basil. If you prefer pesto less thick, omit the nutritional yeast or cheese. Remember, a little pesto goes a long way. One to two tablespoons is a generous serving.

Options Galore

Many sauces are vegetarian by nature; that is, they're made from plant-based foods such as tomatoes, herbs, and spices. Other sauces are easily modified to vegan by using dairy-free ingredients. Experiment with your favorite sauce recipes by adding a variety of chopped vegetables, herbs, and spices. If you want a kick or Southwestern flair, add a chopped jalapeno peppers or diced green chilies. The possibilities are only limited by your culinary imagination.

3 Vegetarian Sauce Recipes