NoMato Sauce
Somewhere around 2005 I was deep in the middle of my advanced yoga teacher training. A natural, whole food approach to eating had already been a well established culture for our small little family but as a part of the training program I was encouraged to experiment with different perspectives and approaches to healthy living. We embraced this challenge with enthusiasm and as it has turned out, this “explorer” mentality is something that our family eventually just adopted as a general way of life.

This approach has led us through a number of amazing seasons. We’ve been vegetarians and vegans. We’ve embraced Ayurvedic cooking and medicine (learn more HERE) and explored all sorts of other fun and interesting choices. And as we’ve meandered down this path of discovery, we’ve found that some recipes just stuck with us, even when our journey evolved into another new phase. They’ve become our standards; the kind of beloved staples that one generation passes on to the next.

This blog was originally started as a way to share our journey, and the recipes we found along the way, with other people on this same path. For us, food has always been about community; about “breaking bread”…..even if we are in a time when “bread” is off the menu.

Even before I needed to be nightshade free for personal health reasons (learn more HERE), this tomato-less marinara was one of our family’s most treasured staples. It’s been in our family for over nine years. In fact, an earlier version of this recipe was the second post that I put up on here! It has evolved a bit over the years but I can honestly say that it is one of the greatest things that I have ever made. One of my favorite things being how packed with healthy vegetables it is. I’m super excited to be sharing it anew with you guys and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do…..maybe this will become a favorite for your family as well.

No-mato Sauce Collage 2 smaller
tomato-less marinara

Tomato-less Marinara (No-mato sauce)

Whole30, Paleo, AIP, Nightshade Free

Makes about 12 1/2 cup servings (1.5 US quarts/1420ml)

For results that are most representative of this recipe, I recommend making it by the weights listed instead of volume (cups). You can also adjust the beet amount to your preferred taste.


8oz/225g (1 1/2 cups)  1″ cubed carrots (about 2 medium)
1lb/455g (3 cups)  peeled, 1″ cubed Butternut squash
6oz/170g (1 1/2 cup) peeled, 1″ cubed red beets
5-6 (20-25g) garlic cloves, minced
8oz/227g (1 medium) diced onion
3 TBLS Olive Oil
2 cups water or 50/50 water and red wine (the wine is delicious!)
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 whole bay leaves
1 1/2  to 2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs**
More water as needed
2  teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper or more to taste (omit for AIP)
**Dried Italian herbs is simply a blend of dried rosemary, thyme, basil, sage and oregano. There should be no other added ingredients.


1. Prepare the first 5 ingredients as stated above, chopping, mincing, etc… set the garlic and onions aside (see  “short cut” notes). Steam the carrots, butternut squash and beets together till soft (can be pierced with a skewer). This takes about 40 minutes with a stove top steamer, over a medium high heat. While the veggie mixture is cooking, heat the ghee (or other fat) over medium heat till melted and hot. Add the prepared garlic and onions to the hot pan and cook until they are caramelized and soft (this build flavor in the sauce by imparting flavor to the oil, as well as the adding flavor from browning.) Set aside until the rest of vegetables are ready.

Shortcut notes: Alternatively, buy pre peeled and cut squash & beets to save on time and work. Frozen veggies also work well for the steamer method. You can even get precooked beets at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. For the cooking methods, I have also roasted all the veggies together ( including the onion and garlic), in a pre-heated 350 degree oven, until veggies were soft and the the onions golden. Really, both methods work, depending on if you want to use your oven or not. It’s not rocket science. Everything just needs to be cooked, and some methods build more flavor than others, as with all good sauces!) Heck, in the 9 years I’ve been making this sauce, I’ve even used canned veggies…though it is most definitely not the best way!

2. Transfer the steamed vegetables, onion mixture, 2 cups of water or wine mixture, vinegar and lemon juice to a blender container and pulse until it makes a nice “tomato sauce” like texture. I try not to do it so long that it’s creamy. A little texture gives it a nice authentic feel.  Transfer to a medium sauce pan. 

3. Stir in the bay leaves and herbs. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat for a least 10 minutes*. Stir periodically to keep the sauce from sticking or burning to the bottom of the pan. Add more water as the sauce cooks down, to desired consistency. The thicker the sauce, the more it tends to splatter, so watch out! If you get it too thin, just reduce the sauce down until you reach the desired consistency again (A thicker sauce is great for pizza sauce, while a thinner one is great for pasta and such. It’s all good! This “cooking down” process develops flavor and richness, as well as reduces the “beet’ flavor. It also prevents the sauce from turning an interesting purplish color as it cools, haha!

4. Add the salt and cracked pepper to taste (salt really helps reduce any beet flavor, so don’t skimp). Remove from heat and throw out the bay leaf. Serve immediately or pour into mason jars and let cool to room temperature. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. The sauce will thicken some once chilled. When ready to use, reheat over medium heat first, then add more water as needed. Makes 6 cups (1.5 quarts or 1420 ml)

I love to pair this sauce with my favorite, grain free pasta by Cappello’s. It is delicious! Or serve or anything!