Photography by Liz Fetchin

“Walk Away” Garden Tomato Sauce with Gluten-Free Pasta

by Liz Fetchin, Octofree (@octofree;


July 10, 2023

Wondering what to do with the abundance of cherry tomatoes and basil in your garden? Make this easy and flavorful tomato sauce that essentially cooks itself while you do other things. Simply add ingredients to a saucepan, simmer to allow the flavors to combine, blend and toss with hot pasta (I used gluten-free because of my family’s intolerances, but this would also work with conventional pasta). In my experiments, I learned the hard way that the pan-to-tomato ratio is very important: Make sure the tomatoes fill your saucepan ¾ of the way when you first add them to avoid burning.

Check out more of my recipes at, and find me on Instagram at @octofree.

Serves: 4-6 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Medium saucepan
Stock pot
Immersion blender or regular blender
Large, shallow serving bowl

24 ounces of fresh cherry tomatoes (about three cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small Vidalia onion, minced
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp vegan, soy-free, nut-free butter (such as soy-free Earth Balance)
1 cup water
1 pound of gluten-free pasta (such as Jovial Gluten-Free Brown Rice Mafalda, pictured here)
1 tsp black strap molasses
2 Tbsp olive oil
Basil for garnish


  1. Place tomatoes, garlic, Vidalia onion, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, vegan butter and water into a medium saucepan (the tomatoes should fill the saucepan about ¾ of the way).
  2. Bring to a boil, stir, lower heat to low so it’s gently simmering, place the lid on the pan and set the timer for 60 minutes. Check on it every once-in-a-while and stir.
  3. When there are 30 minutes left on the sauce, tilt the lid on the saucepan to allow steam to escape and the sauce to reduce, and prepare the brown rice pasta per package instructions. (Reserve some pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta).
  4. When the sauce is done, taste it and if it’s bitter, add 1 tsp of black strap molasses. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and drizzle about 2 tbsp olive oil into the sauce.
  5. Use an immersion blender to blend sauce to desired thickness (or, if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully scoop ¾ of the sauce into a regular blender and blend that way).
  6. Pour strained pasta into a large, shallow serving bowl, carefully pour sauce over top and toss until pasta is coated. If you want a thinner sauce, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve!


By Liz Fetchin,, and find me on Instagram at @octofree.