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This Goji-Tomato Marinara Is The Perfect Low-Sugar Pasta Sauce

creamy tomato sauce pasta dinner topped with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Image by Cameron Whitman / Stocksy
January 18, 2020
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My favorite flavor pairing for goji berries is actually a savory one: tomatoes. And what better way to utilize this combo than in a marinara sauce, where the inherent sweetness of antioxidant-rich goji berries takes the place of sugar (which is commonly added to some marinara recipes).

As a bonus, goji berries also help absorb a bit of the extra liquid from the tomatoes while the sauce is cooking, so you can put together a massively beneficial (not to mention delicious) sauce faster than ever. Use this versatile marinara in all kinds of pasta dishes, mixed with roasted vegetables and quinoa, or as a dip for baked sweet potato fries.

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Goji-Tomato Marinara

Makes about 6 cups


  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes, preferably unsalted
  • ½ cup dried goji berries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced (about 5 or 6 cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
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  1. Place the entire contents of the canned tomatoes, including the juice, into a blender, along with the goji berries. Blend briefly—you can leave the sauce a little chunky or puree it until it is completely smooth, depending on the texture you prefer. 
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, a big pinch of salt, and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, until the onion is golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic and oregano, stirring frequently, and sauté for about 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Pour the tomato-goji puree into the pot. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and cook it over low heat for 20–25 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to reduce and slightly thicken the sauce.
  5. Stir in the basil and add a generous amount of salt to taste (usually around 1 teaspoon or more if you're using unsalted tomatoes, and about ½ teaspoon if you're using salted tomatoes).
  6. If you want a smooth sauce, you can return the mixture to the blender and fully puree it. Or just leave the marinara chunky if you prefer a more textured sauce.
  7. Tip: You can mix 1 tablespoon of lion's mane powder or reishi powder into the sauce after cooking for an extra superfood-boost.

Recipe Adapted with permission from Smart Plants © 2019 by Julie Morris, published by Sterling Epicure. 

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Julie Morris
Julie Morris
Contributing writer

Julie Morris is a Los Angeles-based natural foods chef, on-camera personality, and New York Times best-selling cookbook author. An internationally-known pioneer in cooking with superfoods, Julie is also the founder of Luminberry, the world’s first online superfood cooking school, where she leads unique culinary courses on how to use cutting-edge ingredients and wellness techniques for optimized health. A strong advocate of healthy living, she regularly works as a recipe developer and consultant for cutting-edge health companies, restaurants, and media outlets.

Her five books– Superfood Kitchen, Superfood Smoothies, Superfood Juices, Superfood Snacks and Superfood Soups – have sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe and are published in nine languages, revolutionizing how to use the world’s most beneficial foods to create beautiful recipes that feel as good as they taste. Julie’s mission is simple: to share recipes and nutrition tips that make a vibrantly healthy lifestyle both easy to achieve and delicious to follow.