Hearty Meatless Marinara


This recipe was inspired by this test-kitchen article in Cooks Illustrated magazine, in which they tested all manners of plant-based ground beef alternatives for marinara sauce including nuts, lentils, bulgar, mushrooms, beans, eggplant, and cauliflower. Mushrooms and chickpeas came out as clear winners for texture and flavor. This is my interpretation of their findings.

This recipe makes a chunky, flavorful, delicious marinara that would be excellent on roasted eggplant, zucchini, or spaghetti squash, spiralized veggie “noodles”, polenta, or lentil pasta, and would pair beautifully with veggie sausage, pine nuts, or plant-based ricotta. See the meal suggestions at the bottom of this post.

This also was fairly quick to make, because of using the food processor to chop everything. I barely had to use a knife.

Hearty Meatless Marinara

Veggies | Fat
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Recipe From: Katie’s Conscious Kitchen



  • 10 oz raw mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes


  • 9 oz cooked chickpeas about one 15-oz can, drained and rinsed


  • 1/4 cup olive oil 2 oz

Condiments & Spices

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • Dash of red pepper flakes according to heat preference
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • dried Italian herbs to taste


  • Dice mushrooms, or pulse in a food processor to get small-ish chunks.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
  • Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until moisture has evaporated and they are well-browned.
  • Meanwhile, chop the onion the same way by pulsing in food processor.
  • Add onion to the pot with the mushrooms and continue to cook on medium-high heat.
  • Add tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a deep-rust color, about 1 minute.
  • Add in tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • While the sauce simmers, pulse chickpeas in the food processor a few times until chopped into small pieces. Not too fine, you want the chunky texture! This isn’t hummus!
  • Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer after chopping to remove as much starchiness as possible.
  • Add the chickpeas the sauce and simmer until has thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add Italian herbs, salt, and pepper, to taste.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze in jars or tupperware containers.
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  1. Thank you again and again for doing this !! This is so amazing to have these delicious recipes !! Thanks 😊!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Pingback: Zoodles & “Meaty” Marinara – Katie's Kitchen

  3. Kima

    Very good recipe, I made it and it´s delicious. Thank you from a BLE follower in Spain 😉

  4. Hi Katie! I just found you. I just started BLE as well as transitioned to mostly vegan right before that. Plant-based protein is new to me. Thanks for all your ideas, info, and tips! You’re a life saver as I navigate this new way of eating. PS—I’m trying this recipe and am going to get over my fear of mushrooms. 😉

  5. Anonymous

    delicious! please share more recipes

  6. Rebecca

    If I wanted to add ground beef to this recipe, how do I add it to count the protein?

    • Not sure Rebecca, sorry, I don’t eat meat. I’m not sure what the point of this recipe would be if you did, why not just put ground beef in marinara sauce?

  7. Lillith

    Did you can this recipe or are you just showing that they are in jars?

    • I’ve never tried it Lillith, I’m sure it would can just fine but I don’t know proper canning practices for tomato sauce. My memory is that you have to use pressure to sterilize them, but I could be totally wrong. I just like to store food in jars. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Zoodles & "Meaty" Marinara | Katie's Conscious Kitchen

  9. Lisa

    Hi Katie- How many BLE servings does this recipe make? 4?

    • Hi Lisa, BLE has asked that I not share information about their food plans or BLE breakdowns for my recipes. They have said that it’s a trademark issue. I’ve broken my recipes down by category to be as helpful as possible to BLEers, but you’ll have to work that out the BLE quantities for yourself. Personally, I would just use the total meal weight method for this recipe since it’s all mixed up. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  10. Lisa

    Thank you very much Katie! Looking forward to trying your recipe 😉

  11. Pingback: Zoodles & “Meaty” Marinara | Katie's Conscious Kitchen

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