Spaghetti Sauce, January 7 Version (with turnip!)

This most recent in my series of spaghetti sauce recipes is thick and non-peppery, ideal for use in Stuffed Shells.

We got a winter farm share this year, and last week it included two turnips, just two, a big one and a small one.  When we divided the veggies with our friends, we got the small turnip.  It’s hard to figure out what to do with just one turnip!  I had no plans for it until I was getting out the onions for this sauce and decided on a whim to try using the turnip, too.  You cannot taste it in the finished sauce, but it added nutrients!  It also sweetened the sauce so that I did not need to add any honey or sugar to reduce the “bite”.

Our farm crate also included an entire grocery bag stuffed full of greenhouse-grown kale, in tight clumps with much smaller, curlier leaves than the kale we normally get in the summer.  The “2 small heads” used in this recipe produced about 4 cups of shredded kale.

Here are the instructions/ingredients/method for approximately reproducing this batch of sauce:

  • Peel and dice 2 small yellow onions.
  • Peel 1 tiny turnip and mince into very little bits.  (Daniel did this part–I, being less patient and more prone to mincing my fingertips, would have grated it.)
  • Place large pot over medium-high heat.  Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and use large spoon to spread it around to cover bottom of pot.  Add onion and turnip.  When it starts to sizzle, reduce heat to low.
  • Meanwhile, remove leaves of 2 small heads kale from the tough main stems, and shred them.
  • Notice strong turnip aroma.  Pause the kale-shredding to add to the pot 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 Tbsp. dried basil, and 1 Tbsp. dried oregano.  Mix well.  Aroma will improve.
  • Finish shredding kale.  Mix it into the pot.  Cook about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are very browned.
  • Add 106-oz. can of tomato puree (get these large cans at GFS or Costco), 1 tsp. sea salt, and 5 smallish cloves crushed garlic.
  • Turn up heat until sauce starts bubbling, then turn it down just to the point where it is bubbling a little but not so much that it’s difficult to stir safely.  Keep a lid on it when not stirring, to reduce splatters onto nearby surfaces.
  • Simmer as long as convenient.  I gave this batch 53 minutes–longer than usual–and that enhanced the flavor.

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

7 Responses to Spaghetti Sauce, January 7 Version (with turnip!)

  1. ‘Becca,

    Because your writing has had a positive influence on my life, I am extending my thanks by nominating you for the Liebster Blog Award. You can find more information here:

    Thanks for all you do!

  2. What a lovely and nutritious sauce! I have some turnips in my crisper at the moment and this seems a wonderful use for them! Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  3. Pingback: Four MORE Weeks of Pesco-Vegetarian Dinners « The Earthling's Handbook

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  5. Jody Johnsen says:

    If you use bigger turnips, cut it on a Japanese vegetable cutter (so it’s shaped like pasta) it makes the most glorious alternative to unhealthy wheat spaghetti plus it has a peppery flavor I just adore! I cooked the turnip in the sauce with some wine and artichoke hearts (with the artichoke liquid added) and I am in LOVE!!!!

    • 'Becca says:

      Wow! I have heard of cutting zucchini to use in place of pasta, and I’ve had spaghetti squash in place of pasta, but I never thought of using turnips that way!

      We gradually switched from white pasta to whole-wheat pasta a few years ago, and we’re happy with its role in our diet. But it’s obvious that some people cannot handle eating carbs the way we do and/or have problems digesting wheat in particular. For me, a meal of spaghetti squash with sauce has to include significant protein and fat or it sets off my body’s “not enough food!!!” alarms. But I know lots of people who happily eat it instead of pasta. Just a different type of metabolism, I guess.

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