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!


  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! πŸ˜› 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?

  17. Jen S. says

    I made this last night to top an AIP lasagna (noodles made of white sweet potato sliced lengthwise on the mandolin, and “cheese” was replaced with a coconut milk bΓ©chamel thickened with arrowroot) and I was surprised how closely it resembled a traditional homemade spaghetti sauce. The large amount of apple cider vinegar threw me a bit and I couldn’t imagine it could possibly improve the flavor at that quantity, so only added half. I loved the zing it gave the sauce and how much more like tomatoes it made it taste, so added the other half and felt it wasn’t too much after all. I skipped the baking of the butternut squash step since I had a couple of bags of frozen organic butternut squash that I just threw in after the onions and zucchini were about done cooking, and continued following the rest of the steps from there, pureeing the squash with the other ingredients. My sauce turned out rather thick, so thinned it quite a bit with chicken bone broth.

    My 5-year-old daughter can be somewhat picky and definitely isn’t interested in most of the items I have to eat while on an autoimmune protocol, but my husband and daughter both really enjoyed my AIP lasagna with this sauce. I was glad I had plenty of sauce leftover for other AIP creations. I think I’ll make some meatballs and top them with this sauce and bake them. Yum! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. says

    Hi, i would like to print this recipe but i don’t see a print button. i can’t email it to my self b/c i don’t have the set up on my computer. can you email this recipe, tomato less tomato sauce, or guide me to a print button on the page.

    • Jill says

      Place your mouse over the start of the recipe. Hold left button down. While holding down move mouse over recipe till it’s all highlighted. Release left button. Somewhere in the recipe, place mouse, click right mouse button and it should come up with options – like print. Hope that helps/works.

  19. Inessa kaufman says

    I am in the process of making this. I see other recipes calling carrots. Do you think I can add them? Also, can I use canned beets for beet stock and regular white vinegar? Will that change the re up too much?

  20. Inessa says

    Just made it. Ended up still using apple cider viniger instead of white viniger and regular beets. This is my favorite recipe! I added yellow and red bell pepper roasted and spinach to the recipe to add more veggies. It’s tastes and looks like regular tomato sauce. No need to buy expensive nomato stuff. Saving this for our family recipe for sure!

  21. says

    Thank you for this recipe! I made it last night to use on Paleo pizza. The sauce was great! Thank you for providing an option for those of us who don’t eat tomatoes due to health.

  22. Zoe says

    Amazing recipe, it’s so great to have Italian food again ( wheat, dairy,nightshade free Italian food) This is a favourite of our family- even those who can have tomatoes- thanks so much for sharing it.

  23. Dan says

    “sautee the onions and zucchini in the fat”

    What fat?? This is the only time you mention any fat. Where does the fat come from?

  24. Fshg says

    Hi! Thank you Jesus! For this lady posting this recipe! I added a little pinot gigio to leave a slightly less vinegary after taste. Nightshade intolerant, and very grateful that you were around. God bless you and thank you πŸ™‚

  25. bayou suzette says

    I am just finding this recipe in 2016 and will make it today. I live in Louisiana, where it seems every dish includes nightshades. I will see if I can use this sauce to make jambalaya and etouffee using different herbs (bay and parsley). I use quinoa in place of rice in these dishes and everybody still enjoys them. I am hoping I can master one more substitution. I am very thankful that you share your recipes and knowledge. I really enjoy your articles, Kimi.

  26. Anna says

    This is delicious; thank you for the recipe. I did not have the dried herbs, so threw in a handful of fresh basil and 5 stalks each of fresh oregano and thyme. Removed the oregano and thyme stalks before blending. Only 3 of us, so I used 2 onions and half a butternut squash and thickness is still great. Making gnocchi tonight with it.

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