Galen’s Spaghetti Sauce with Garden Fresh Vegetables

Eat your vegetables! We heard this when growing up and it’s just as important as we get older. This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is full of garden fresh vegetables–eggplant, squash, bell peppers, tomatoes. It’s a good way to incorporate some of summer’s produce into a meal.Spaghetti Sauce - IMG_4146_1

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is from my California brother. At family reunions, it is a tradition that each sibling’s family cook a meal. At one reunion, the California relatives made a delicious, vegetable-laden spaghetti sauce. Some folks might call it a ratatouille.

The recipe made a huge pot; enough for supper and some left-overs. It was very tasty–and the best part was that you didn’t realize that you were eating all those vegetables.Garden Fresh Vegetables for Spaghetti Sauce - IMG_3966_1-cropped

I asked my brother to write down the recipe. Here are his remarks about it:

This recipe started when our kids were small and we were trying to get more vegetables into their diet, then it evolved over time.  The recipe starts with prepared pasta sauce, which makes it easy, but then turns into a new wonder each time it is prepared depending on what vegetables and sauces you have on hand.  Leftovers can be frozen and reheated another time.

This is one of those recipes where a person can be creative and  use whatever vegetables, meats and tomato products are on hand for the spaghetti sauce. The constant ingredients are ground beef (or part sausage), eggplant, onions, Italian seasoning and plenty of tomato sauce. Other ingredients frequently include zucchini, yellow squash, garlic, bell pepper, fresh tomatoes.

Making the Spaghetti Sauce

Th spaghetti sauce is best when cooked slowly, over several hours. The longer it cooks the better the flavors blend together. Left-overs taste great. I froze left-over sauce and served it to guests a month or so later–it was as tasty as the fresh sauce.

The sauce is cooked in several steps. First, brown the meat and set aside. I like to substitute ground sausage (such as Jimmy Dean-brand sausage) for part of the meat. For this recipe I used 1 1/2 pound of meat.

For my sauce, I used the vegetables shown in the photo above. Sauteed the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent then added the eggplant. My brother left the skins on the eggplant. This makes the sauce a little “chewy”, so peel the eggplant if you prefer.Eggplant and Onion added to pot - IMG_4089Add about 3/4 cup water, cover and steam the eggplant until tender. I mashed it with a flat spoon.Eggplant cooking - IMG_4092

Add the other vegetables — zucchini, yellow squash, green and red bell peppers and cook until soft. Fresh tomatoes could be added here too.

Vegetables added to eggplant - IMG_4095Heat the tomato sauces in a very large pot. For convenience, my brother uses prepared pasta sauces and also condensed tomato soup. This helps cut the tartness of the tomatoes. I added crushed tomatoes rather than marinara sauce. Here are the tomato products that I used.Galens Tomato Ingredients - IMG_4087After the sauces are heated, combine everything in with the tomato sauces. Add the seasonings, including 3 Tbsp of Italian Seasonings.
Italian Seasonings added in - IMG_4114Let everything simmer for 30 minutes or longer!. No need to rush. Serve with favorite pasta. Think I have some in my freezer now; this will make an easy supper tonight!

Galen's Spaghetti Sauce with Garden Fresh Vegetables, original recipe from Galen Heisey

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1-2 lbs ground beef (or combination of ground beef and ground sausage such as Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 small-medium American eggplant, diced in ½” cubes, leave skin on–peeling the eggplant skin is optional
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced small but not tiny
  • 2-3 small-medium zucchinis, sliced in ¼” dice
  • 1 yellow summer squash, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp Italian herb mix (Italian Seasoning)
  • 1 16-oz can prepared red pasta sauce (Hunts or store brand)
  • 1 28-oz can prepared marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 10 ¾ oz can condensed tomato soup.
    Optional veggies and spices:
  • ½ green bell pepper, cubed
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, cubed
  • ½ orange bell pepper, cubed
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced lengthwise then cut in half
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, sliced or chopped
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ c black olives, sliced
  • Parsley (fresh or dried)
  • Basil (fresh or dried)

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Saute ground beef (and sausage, optional), drain off excess fat and set aside.
  2. In 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pot, saute onion until translucent about 10 minutes.
  3. Add eggplant plus ¾ c water and cover. Saute/steam over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes or more until soft and translucent. Use a flat spoon or potato masher to mash the eggplant.
  4. Add zucchini, yellow squash and other vegetables (not Sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms or olives). Keep adding enough water so that the mixture doesn’t dry out and burn as it cooks. Cook until these vegetables become soft, occasionally mashing them, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add Sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and black olives–if using these ingredients–and cook 10 minutes longer (do not mash these ingredients).
  6. While this is cooking start heating the sauces and soup in an 8-10 qt pot, and add the salt and Italian spices.  Add parsley and basil, if using. Bring to a boil, stir regularly, be careful not to burn.
  7. When the veggie mix is cooked (eggplant turns translucent and looses form) add the vegge mix and ground beef/sausage to the sauce.
  8. Let the sauce simmer for 30 mins or longer over low heat.
  9. Check for taste and add seasonings as desired. Use more or less meat depending on your meatiness level. Note: You can also skip the meat.

Serve over your favorite pasta

Now, summer vegetables couldn’t be better!Galen's Spaghetti Sauce with Garden Fresh Vegetables - IMG_4138

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