Whether you’ve got a nasty nightshade intolerance, or you’re just trying to stick to an AIP / Paleo / Whole 30 / Super-Complicated-and-Difficult-to-Follow meal plan, there are a lot of reasons why you might ditch the tomatoes in your diet. Whatever your reason for ditching the ‘maters, this “Nomato Sauce” is an absolute staple for creating pasta and pizza dishes!
Picture this: it’s a rainy Tuesday night in December and R and I are meeting for our second date. He was still wearing his suit from work, I was wearing a fedora (bless my heart) and we met in this tiny little tapas bar with exposed brick walls and flickering candlelight. R ordered a local craft IPA, I ordered a Stella Artois (I didn’t know the first thing about beer back then, but I thought a Stella sounded fancy…) Then it was time to mull over the food menu.
“Bruschetta?” I suggested (because that sounded slightly more dignified than the cheese croquettes I really had my heart set on…)
And then R uttered five little words that would change the course of my entire life:
“Actually, I’m allergic to tomatoes.”
Now, even though this was only our second date… I was already pretty confident that R and I were going to spend the rest of our lives together. (On a scale from “that Lance Bass movie where he falls in love on the L train” to “literally any Nicholas Spark novel ever,” I would rate our first date a solid “love at first sight”). But warm fuzzy feelings and life-altering first impressions aside, I still had to take a deep breath and appreciate the enormity of this revelation.
In that moment, I had to come to terms with the understanding that our future would be tomato free; that every pizza we ordered would have ranch sauce instead of marinara… that every pasta night we would have to top our noodles with alfredo… that the hot dogs we shared at ball games would go unadorned with condiments… that we’d never share a plate of tomato sauce-topped meatloaf from Boston Market!
In that moment, all of these thoughts flashed before my eyes as I grappled with the gravity of what R had just told me. And then I glanced up from the menu and said the only words that seemed appropriate:
“So… cheese croquettes then?”
Ruling out tomatoes is no easy feat (they’re hiding in everything! curries, stews, soup stocks, sandwiches, potato chip seasoning, pretty much every Mexican restaurant menu item ever… nothing is safe!) Unfortunately we’ve learned that ‘delicious’ is very often synonymous with ‘tomato-laden.’
While we can’t do much to improve our dine-out prospects, with a little practice (and a lot of Pinteresting!) we’ve managed to perfect a homemade tomato sauce alternative that is great for pizza and pasta dishes.
Here’s what we use:
- 1 Onion, Diced
- 1 – 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 Can of Slices Beets
- 2 Cans of Sliced Carrots
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Bay Leaf
Note: Some people with an intolerance to nightshades might also react to ingredients like onion or garlic. Since R doesn’t have a problem with these, I unfortunately can’t offer any alternatives.
Annnd Another Note: This is a fast and dirty recipe where I use canned veggies. If you’re looking for a healthier approach, you can replace the canned items with fresh boiled carrots and beets 😉
Step One: Saute Onion & Garlic
I start out by drizzling some oil into a large pot and placing over low to medium heat. While the oil warms up, I dice a large onion. If you want your sauce to have a chunkier texture, you can chop the onion into larger pieces. For a pizza sauce, smaller chunks are ideal (this’ll give you a smoother consistency).
I add the onions to the hot oil and give the burner a little more gas to really get things sizzling. Then I mince my garlic… usually a clove or two (ok, usually two… I’m crazy, I love garlic!)
After the onions have had some alone time to soften up and start to get that translucent look, I throw in the garlic (adding the garlic too early can cause it to burn!). I give the garlic a few stirs to really get it acquainted with the onion, then I turn the heat down to low while I carry on with step two…
Step Two: Blend the Carrots & Beets
I strain my canned veggies, leaving about 1/3 of the juice in each can (this helps it blend up a little easier, and it also gives the sauce a smoother consistency). Then, in my awesome Ninja blender (affiliate link!), I blend these chaps together to create my sauce base!
Step Three: Onion & Garlic, Meet Carrots & Beets
After blending, I pop the lid off and take my carrot and beet mixture straight over to the stove, then I pour over the sauteed onion and garlic (if you’re using a Ninja, make sure you lift out the removable blade before you pour!)
I give the mixture a few good stirs, then I bring the heat up to medium for a minute to get things moving along.
Step Four: Add Whatever Seasoning your Heart Desires
I like to add a little bit of salt and pepper, a bay leaf, some red pepper flakes (I like my sauce with a little bite!) and whatever other herbs or spices inspire me. If you’re uninspired, a good place to start is with a few heavy shakes of a basic Italian seasoning.
Sprinkle in the desired seasonings (to taste) and stir until well distributed throughout your gloppy sauce mixture.
Step Five: Watch and Wait
As the sauce heats up, it’ll start to thicken and bubble. As soon as I see bubbles form, I turn down the heat. This is also when I add a splash of red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. If your sauce still looks a little too thick for your liking, you can also add a tiny bit of water (literally, a splash) or a bit of chicken / beef / veggie broth.
Now, with the heat set to low, it’s time to cover the sauce and walk away. I usually use this opportunity to refill my wine glass and watch something vapid and deplorable on TV.
I also like to check on my sauce every so often, give it a little stir, ask it how things are going….
Step Six: There’s Not Actually a Sixth Step…
There’s no hard and fast rule about how long I leave the sauce to simmer. I’ll usually give it until I reach the bottom of my wine glass (or the end of a House Hunters International episode) before I deem it “done.”
If I’m boiling some pasta to go with the sauce, I’ll toss the noodles into boiling water at around the same time that I cover my sauce… and then my sauce will simmer for however long it takes my pasta to boil.
And there you have it! A piping hot pot full of delicious nomato sauce!
For a spaghetti bolognese, brown some Italian sausage or ground beef in a pan, strain (or don’t, #yolo), then dump straight into the sauce pot. Give it a few minutes to meat & greet (food pun!), then pour over a bed of delicious hot buttered pasta.
For pizza, I spread over a pre-made dough (Publix is the best!), sprinkle on some toppings, pop it in the oven…
…and dontcha know, it looks just like a normal pizza!
If you decide to try out this recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Tell me your favorite spice & herb add-ins, or what creations you like to make with this sauce, below in the comments!
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