Homemade pasta sauce is so much easier than you think. This vegan sauce is light and fresh, and it’s ready to eat in just 30 minutes. Spoon it over gnocchi or any type of pasta. You’ll never go back to store-bought sauce again!
In Argentina, tuco refers to any tomato sauce used for pasta. There are endless variations. Some tuco sauces have meat, some use chicken or beef broth, some are just vegetables.
I love tuco sauce, because fresh tomato sauce is so much fresher and flavorful than anything you can buy in a jar or can at the store. It’s a fantastic way to use up extra tomatoes that you might have going soft in your fridge.
It’s also the perfect companion for gnocchi (or noquis, as they are called in Spanish), but it can be used for any pasta. It’s comfort food but without any heaviness.
This tuco sauce is vegan and only uses vegetables. It can be made to suit a strict Low-FODMAP diet by omitting the garlic and using chives instead of an onion.
Why You’ll LOVE this Recipe:
- Fresh pasta sauce made from scratch
- Lots of healthy vegetables
- Authentic Argentinean flavors
- Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free
- Quick and easy
Ingredients for Tuco Sauce:
- olive oil
- garlic (optional)
- chives or onion
- bay leaves
- bell pepper
- tomato paste
- black pepper
- black olives
Notes on Ingredients:
Garlic – Some Italian grandmothers might literally faint when I say this but, in my experience, garlic is often not really necessary. Obviously, it depends on the recipe, but if garlic isn’t the main flavor of a dish, then it can probably be left out and the dish won’t suffer for it. In this tuco sauce, I use a small clove just for flavor. As someone with IBS who has been on a strict Low-FODMAP diet, I have found that I can handle garlic when it is used minimally as a seasoning and cooked, as it is in this tuco sauce. If you are following a strict Low-FODMAP diet, just leave the garlic out. Unless you’ve got a Sicilian grandmother tasting your sauce, no one will even know. I promise.
Chives or Onion – If you’re following a Low-FODMAP diet, use only the green parts of the chives. Don’t chop up the white bulb part. Usually chives come in bunches of 5-6 chives when you get them in the supermarket and they are usually bound together with two rubberbands. Generally, don’t chop past the rubberband that is closest to the white parts. Chives have been a revelation for me – in most instances, they substitute beautifully for onions. If you’re not on the Low-FODMAP diet, then you can just use a regular yellow onion.
Bay Leaves – Bay leaves are one of those magical herbs that impart the perfect undertone to a good pasta sauce. I like to use three bay leaves here.
Tomatoes – Tuco sauce is a terrific way to use up tomatoes that might be just about to go soft in your veggie drawer. I usually buy tomatoes on the vine just to give you an idea of the size that I’m talking about.
Carrot – One shredded carrot adds the perfect sweetness to tomato sauce, and it brightens the color, too. Sugar is often added to tomato sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, but I find that one shredded carrot does the trick – and is much healthier.
Bell Pepper – You can use any color of bell pepper here – green, red, orange, or yellow. It simply adds sweetness and, like the carrot, makes the sauce fresh and light.
Tomato Paste – This is the classic thickener for tomato sauces. A tablespoon suffices. Too much tomato paste can make the sauce too acidic and too thick.
Water – I use ½ cup of water so that the sauce doesn’t get too thick. I like to keep this sauce vegan and very light and fresh. If you want your sauce to be more filling, feel free to substitute chicken broth or beef broth.
Salt and Black Pepper – I love this sauce just simple and fresh, but feel free to get creative with the seasonings. Make it your own – try dried basil or oregano for the classic Italian taste. Add paprika or a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice it up.
Black Olives – Pitted Kalamata olives add the perfect brininess to the tuco sauce. They soften a lot during cooking, so they won’t dominate the sauce, but they will add a briny balance to all of the sweeter vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell pepper.
How to Make Argentinean Tuco Sauce From Scratch
Heat a medium sized pot over high heat. Add the olive oil and saute the garlic (if using) and chives (or onion). Add the tomatoes, carrots, and bell pepper. Cover the pot and let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes until they are softened.
Add the tomato paste, water, salt, and black pepper. Stir. Add the olives.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve over gnocchi, pasta, or polenta. Enjoy! Buen Provecho!
Tuco Sauce - Argentinean Salsa de Tuco - Vegan
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped optional
- 1 bunch chives, chopped sub: 1 medium onion
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1 bell pepper, chopped any color
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup black olives, pitted
- Heat oil on high in medium pot.
- Add garlic (if using) and chives.
- Add tomatoes, carrot and bell pepper.
- Cover pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, water, salt, and pepper.
- Add the olives.
- Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.