Nom Nom Paleo

Virginia Is For Hunter-Gatherers’ Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce

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I’m excited to welcome Brent and Heather as guest bloggers! 

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Brent and Heather are the adorable and talented couple behind Virginia is for hunter-gatherers, a paleo blog dedicated to health and wellness through home-cooked meals. I first discovered their blog last year when I peeked in on a burger party they threw with Russ Crandall. Now, that’s my kind of party.

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After losing over 70 pounds collectively, Brent and Heather spend their free time cooking and blogging their real-food passion for the world.  People: Do yourselves a favor and sign up for weekly new recipes at vahuntergatherers.com or join them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Ever since that fateful day last November when I drooled over their inventive burger combinations, I’ve been hooked on their clean, unfussy styling and photography. Plus, their recipes are always simple and delicious. I’d be a dummy if I didn’t ask them to help me with a blog post and, thankfully, they agreed to write one. Without further ado, here’s Brent and Heather’s Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce!

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Once upon a time, when Heather and I first started our own documented cooking adventures, we were pretty lost.  Still in the initial sticker shock/grief period of, “But what can I eat?,” we spent a lot of time scanning the internet looking for “paleo-friendly” recipes and meal ideas.  Michelle’s blog was one of the first I came across, as I was a pretty intense tumblr addict.  Once I moved to Virginia and was juggling two jobs, tumblr went away, but Nom Nom stayed.  I later found out the connection between fitbomb and nomnompaleo, and I was excited to see a pair that really thought about fitness and health when it comes to movement and diet.  Plus, there’s the added benefit of following the family adventures since I’m not quite ready to enlist my own little army of helpers.

A lightbulb really went off for me when I found out about zoodles.  When I found them on Michelle’s blog, I almost immediately went out and bought the same Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler on Amazon.  We had tried spaghetti squash, but I think it’s kind of a pain in the backside, comparatively.  This was a moment in my own paleo evolution where things just got a whole lot easier. 

I reached out to Michelle a few weeks ago on a whim to say thanks and to ask for any Bay Area advice while I was there over a long weekend for a conference. Not only did she suggest an amazing place to get a burger (Thanks, 4505 Meats!), she also asked if I would like to share something with her great community of readers.  After the initial shock and subsequent dance party, I thought it only appropriate to make a sauce to accompany the zoodles that opened my eyes to a new world of food.  This is a damn good sauce, and I think you’ll enjoy it

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in water
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in chiffonade, divided


Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Meanwhile, finely chop about half a medium white onion, or as much onion until you have 1 ¼ cups.

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Place onion into sauté pan and cook through for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the onion in olive oil and avoid burning the onion.

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Press and mince 3 cloves of garlic…

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…and place into sauté pan with the onion at the 8 minute point, and continue to cook for 3 additional minutes, mixing regularly.  If the onions start to brown more than slightly, turn the heat down to low.

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Move the sautéed onion and garlic into a deep-sided skillet, and add the two cans of diced tomatoes.  At this point, add in celery salt, oregano, bay leaf, coconut aminos, red pepper flakes (if you like a little spice), and black pepper.  

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Also add 1 tablespoon of the fresh basil to the sauce.  Simmer on medium to medium-low heat with a splatter guard for 45 minutes.

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Pro tip: If you roll your basil leaves and then slice (my mom pointed out this is called a chiffonade), you get nice pretty strips that are great for garnish as well as adding it to dishes.  

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Stir the sauce occasionally while it cooks, and adjust the heat down if it starts to stick to the bottom of the skillet.  

After the 45 minutes has passed, remove the bay leaf, add the second tablespoon of basil, stir, and serve with zoodles, spaghetti squash, or a spoon.

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The end result is a thicker sauce, but if that is not your style, you can always add in some water or chicken stock one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  Also, you can always throw this into your blender or food processor if you’re not a fan of chunky sauces.  However you decide to finish this sauce, you will enjoy it.

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