Tomatoless “Tomato” Sauce

From my last post, it seems that I am not the only one sensitive to nightshades. This recipe is actually quite delicious! When you can’t have nightshades for whatever reason (candida diet, or allergy), this definitely hits the spot.

My only complaint is that it takes a bit more time to make than a tomato sauce. But my 5 year and old and I thought it worth the work when we tasted it. We used it with ground beef over noodles. Delicious! I can also easily imagine this being used as a pizza sauce.

The base is sauteed onions and garlic, butternut squash puree and a beet “broth”, which dyes the dish that bright red. Apple cider vinegar adds the tang.

Tomatoless “Tomato” Sauce

Adapted from The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.
About 3 tablespoons of ghee, coconut oil, or butter
3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
8 smallish garlic cloves
1 large or two small butternut squash
1 medium zucchini, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 cups of beet stock*
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons of dried oregano
3 teaspoons of dried basil
unrefined salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a heavy large knife, slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a large pan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until soft when pierced with a fork. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the soft squash. You should have about 4 cups worth.

2. In a large saucepan, or pot, sauteed the onions and zucchini in the fat over medium high heat until soft. Add the garlic in the last few minutes of cooking time. Add the beet broth, butternut squash puree, and the apple cider vinegar and herbs. Bring to a simmer and simmer for several minutes. Using a blender or a hand blender, puree all of the mixture and then salt to taste.

It’s ready to serve! To thicken sauce, simmer to desired thickness while stirring. To thin, add water or broth.

*To make the beet stock, scrub one red beet well. Thinly slice and put into a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Take beet slices out.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. says

    Excellent! Thank you so much for sharing this. My daughter cannot eat tomatoes as they are a high salicylate food and she reacts to salicylates. We’ve tried a beet/carrot sauce (pureed beets and carrots with some herbs) before, but the beet taste was really strong. I imagine using the beet stock eliminates the overpowering flavor of the beets.
    I’m making spaghetti and meatballs this weekend. Yay! Thanks. =-)

    • KimiHarris says

      Oops! For some reason, several of my edits didn’t show up in this post! I think I’ve fixed most of them now. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. says

    How fascinating! I didn’t even imagine that this was possible. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I’m not nightshade intolerant, and I *love* my tomatoes. But it’s good to know that there are alternatives out there for when tomatoes are out of season and I’ve run out of my canned goodies. It’s also great for those who can’t handle them well.

  3. April says

    Do you think that butternut squash baby food would work? It’s so much easier to use than to mess with a whole squash!

    • says

      I know canned foods aren’t preferred in terms of nutrient density (and the phthalates), but you can get canned organic butternut squash from the company Farmer’s Market. I’m not sure if their canning process has phthalates in it or not…. I’ve used their butternut squash when I didn’t have time to puree my own.

        • elise says

          i’ve found that baby food is usually a lot thinner (aka watered down) than the real thing, so i’d imagine it’ll take a whole lot of baby food to balance out the recipe, and you’d probably have to simmer it for a while before the texture is right. another easy option is to “roast” the squash in the microwave. cut it in half, seed it and cover with plastic wrap, it cooks (depending on the size) in 5-12 minutes.

  4. amanda k. says

    just found out that i shouldn’t eat tomatoes. we love our mexican food here and this time of year i would be making tons of fresh salsa. this week i made roasted plum salsa instead. cut the plums in small pieces, roasted on a high heat with some olive oil, then tossed with chopped onion, tons of cilantro, s & p, i may put some peppers in next time. it was great. iv’e done peach too, which i grilled instead of roasted. great on taco salad!

  5. Paula A. says

    From all the nightshades, tomato is definitely the hardest one for my family to live without… I’ll most definitely try this recipe. Thank you so much.

    • joey says

      hahaha i would imagine tomato being the hardest to live without for most people! :P unless you are a cereal murderer or a south american hooker? south american hookers actually use “deadly nightshade” to incompassitate the men that pick them up, so that they can easily steal their money and/or possessions.

  6. Donna Spencer says

    I’m probably sensitive to nightshades, but I don’t want to admit it yet!! Since I know the foods your allergic to are always the ones you gravitate to, makes me think nightshades! Thanks for the list!

  7. jan says

    Kimi, I have eczema and tomatoes are definitely a trigger….But I have heard that beets are also a nightshade….is that not so?

    I love your salad recipe book! Oh man, that apple cider dressing is soooo yummy, and every salad we’ve tried, we’ve loved.

  8. KristinaD says

    This is great! I have a nightshade allergic child and pasta night tends to be very difficult.
    For those allergic to nightshades, where do you buy your spices?? I know this is off topic, but my DD reacts to the spices I have – I have to assume it is cross-contamination with peppers from the processing. Thanks in advance!

  9. Vikki Kay says

    Was pleased to have a butternut squash when I read this post, and made the sauce straight away. I didn’t bother with the beet colouring, as my kids have never had tomato sauce, so the colour doesn’t mean anything to their tastebuds! I was thrilled that it worked out so well, and I used it for chicken parmigiana, and pizza! Tastes great! I have a question about how long it will last in the fridge, and can it be frozen? Because we are not used to using tomato sauce, we are not getting through it very quickly, even though I only made half the recipe above.

  10. lisa roberts says

    Thankyou for putting your recipe on here my daughter and i are allergic to foods with histamine in, we will be able to have spaghetti bolognese again

  11. Cherri says

    Thank you I was hoping I had found something to put on pizza as I am allergic to tomatoes but just my luck I am also allergic to squash. But thank you it sounds like it would have been good. Allergic to Milk, tuna and shellfish, tomatoes, peanuts and squash

  12. Trena Chapman says

    I am intolerant to beets as well as tomatoes. Do you have any substitute suggestions for the beets in this recipe?

  13. Joanne Borin says

    I am thrilled at the thought of having pizza and other italian dishes but my daughter is allergic to beets. What can I use instead?

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

  14. Caleb Barlow says

    I just made it! It was pretty good, however a little on the sweet side, I think because of the apple cider vinegar. What would you recommend doing to make it less sweet? Less vinegar? Overall a great tomato sauce replacement!

    • says


      The butternut squash is what makes it sweet – the vinegar actually helps make it more tangy. Squash has varying levels of sweetness, so you may have used an especially sweet one- thus the sweet sauce.

  15. Nikki says

    I was just wondering the purpose of the zucchini- is it for texture? Would I be missing an essential part of the recipe if I left it out? I’m allergic- would love to hear your suggestion!

  16. Amy says

    Thank you for this! My husband has a tough time eaton tomatoes! But he has a more difficult time with onions. Are they completely necessary in this recipe?

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