Slow Cooker Summer Pasta Sauce with Fresh Basil

Slow Cooker Summer Pasta Sauce with Fresh Basil

I fell in love with all the vibrant colors at the farmers market this weekend! There were various shades of eggplant – from lavender to deep purple – peppers of all colors and heat, even Italian tomatoes in red, yellow, and orange.

The colors memorized me into buying more eggplant than I can typically sneak by Cheryl – my resident picky eater – in a week. But then I thought about cooking the eggplant down in a pasta sauce. Usually summer sauces are made with fresh veggies barely cooked and tossed with pasta, but there’s no rule that says that’s the way it has to be.

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I used wax peppers in my sauce because they were beautiful and cheaper at the market. Any kind of sweet (as in ‘not hot’) peppers will work great.

For the fresh tomatoes, it’s best to use Italian since they are meatier and not as juicy. If you use regular tomatoes seed them or be prepared to cook your sauce down longer than 8 hours. You can also seed the Italian ones to make a thicker sauce.

Slow Cooker Summer Pasta Sauce with Fresh Basil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, minced (about ½ a medium onion)
  • ½ cup sweet or bell pepper, minced (about ½ a medium bell pepper)
  • 2 cups (164 g) eggplant, diced
  • 2½ to 3 cups (395 to 474 g) diced fresh Italian tomatoes (of any color)
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (around 14 ounces or 392 g each)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
  • ¼ cup (10 g) fresh basil, chopped
The night before:
  1. Chop the veggies. Heat the oil and sauté the onion and pepper until translucent.
  2. Store the onion mixture and together with the diced tomatoes and eggplant in the same covered bowl in the fridge overnight.
In the morning:
  1. Combine all the ingredients (except for fresh basil) in your slow cooker and cook all day on low (or 4 hours on high).
  2. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and then stir in the chopped fresh basil. Serve over pasta. (Whole wheat angel hair is my favorite.)
  3. You can also purée the sauce with an immersion blender for really picky eaters or for an extra thick sauce.
  4. You can freeze the leftovers for another meal later in the month. (Or make extra pasta and use the leftover for lunches instead.)
When you come home you may need to add extra water if the sauce is too thick. If it is too thin put the handle of a wooden spoon between the lid and the crock then turn it to high. This should help the extra liquid to evaporate. If it is really watery, transfer it to a pot and cook on the stove without a lid to reduce it faster.



  1. Nina says

    I’m going to try this for sure. However, I don’t care for eggplant so will omit and add extra peppers, onions, and of course GARLIC. LOL! I was thinking of adding diced zuccini, but I’m afraid it might loosen the sauce too much (?). Perhaps I should dry fry zuccini slices separately (for texture contrast) and layer it in bowls (over the noodles and under the sauce). What do you think, Kathy?

    • Kathy Hester says

      Nina – personally, I would saute them separately. My family will not eat mushy summer squash ever, so I’m trained to under-cook it a bit.

      However if it were just me I might give it a try or puree the sauce so no one knows. (I’m sneaky like that…)

      Be sure to tell me how it turns out!

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