Tomato-less Marinara Sauce (Nightshade-free, AIP)

With nightshades becoming a more common food sensitivity these days, many might find themselves looking for an alternative to their favorite tomato-based condiments and sauces, like this marinara sauce.

plate of spaghetti with marinara sauce on top

If you’re not familiar with nightshades, they are a family of plants that contain certain compounds, like lectins and saponins, that can make them problematic, particularly for those dealing with autoimmune disease. These plants include tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, paprika, goji berries, eggplant, and potatoes, among others. (For a complete list, see this post by The Paleo Mom.) A growing number of people seem to be trying out the Autoimmune Protocol, which advocates avoiding nightshades, among other gut irritants, so I wanted to make a marinara sauce that could be enjoyed without the use of tomatoes, bell peppers, alcohol, or added sugars.

Made with a simple blend of carrots, onions, lemon, garlic, and a beet for its red hue, this sauce is as easy and healthy as it gets, and it is just as satisfying as traditional red sauce. I’m actually surprised by how much I like it!

fork twirling spaghetti with marinara sauce

Whether you require a nightshade-free marinara sauce, or are just looking to change up a recipe in your weekly dinner rotation, I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as we have.

Tomato-less Marinara Sauce (AIP-friendly, Nightshade-free)
Makes 5 cups

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound carrots, chopped
1 medium beet, chopped
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onions until they are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the carrots, beet, and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer, cooking until the carrots and beets are fork-tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

preparing marinara sauce in a pot and in a blenderCarefully transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender, add the salt and lemon juice, and blend until smooth. (Be sure to cover the vent in the lid of your blender with a dishtowel to prevent the top blowing off from the pressure of blending hot liquids!) Taste the sauce and adjust any seasonings, as needed, including a dash of oregano and basil, if you like! You can also add additional water, if you’d like a thinner sauce.

Serve warm over your favorite vegetable or pasta dish, and enjoy! Leftover sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for months.

fork with spaghetti and tomatoless marinara

4.69 from 16 votes
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Tomato-less Marinara Sauce (Nightshade-free, AIP-friendly)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

A quick and healthy marinara sauce that is free of nightshades, sugar, and alcohol.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 5 cups
Calories: 90 kcal
Author: Detoxinista.com
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 yellow onions , chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 pound carrots , chopped
  • 1 medium beet , chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onions until they are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the carrots, beet, and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer, cooking until the carrots and beets are fork-tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Carefully transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender, add the salt and lemon juice, and blend until smooth. (Be sure to cover the vent in the lid of your blender with a dishtowel to prevent the top blowing off from the pressure of blending hot liquids!) Taste the sauce and adjust any seasonings, as needed, including a dash of oregano and basil, if you like! You can also add additional water, if you'd like a thinner sauce.
  3. Serve warm over your favorite vegetable or pasta dish, and enjoy! Leftover sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for months.

Notes:

  • If you’d prefer to use apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon juice for tartness, I’d start with just half the amount called for, as I find the vinegar more potent in flavor.

As always, please leave a comment below letting us know any other substitutions you try!

Reader Feedback: Have you ever tried eliminating nightshades? Do you have a favorite alternative to classic marinara sauce? I’ve never tried eliminating nightshades myself, and I have a feeling it would be really difficult for me. I love pretty much everything on the nightshade list!

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Comments

Raquel

Made this tonight with gluten-free pasta.. and I LOVED it. I’ll probably add more spices next time but the kids didn’t even notice a difference! Thank you so much for your creation! This will be a regular staple in our dinners!

Colleen

I just made this and it’s delish! Served it with paleo turkey meatballs over zucchini pasta. Yum!

Cindy

I am INCREDIBLY happy I came across this recipe! My dad is allergic to tomatoes (well not allergic, but he has extreme joint pain when he consumes them), and he’s been avoiding tomato ever since!

I’m so excited to try out this recipe 🙂

In happiness

Thank you for posting this My young son and i want to make this, but we are omitting the oil..do you foresee any problem with the end result and its incumbent taste?

LeAnn

Michelle, how did the altered recipe go? I cannot have carrots (too much sugar) and was wanting to try that recipe. Thanks for the original post!

Debra

Thank you- This could possibly be a life saver for us. Found out yesterday that my daughter has developed an allergy to tomatoes. There is a possibility eggplant also. I appreciate that you have taken the time to make this. I was going to experiment and decided to google first. Pizza is her first love and she was really thinking that she could eat just a little. I hope this works for her. She is definitely a headstrong teen.

Sasha Scheer

I tried the cauliflower crust and the beet + carrot alternative sauce ^_^ it came out perfect and the sauce was delicious ^_^ I also made a wheat crust with the sauce and I liked it because it was thin and crunchy, the cauliflower crust was spongy but it stayed together and everything ^_^

You can see pictures and everything here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.175900572803379.1073741837.100011503124847&type=3

lisa meadows

Thank you so much, I became deathly allergic to tomatoes last year after 45 years of eating them and growing them , I have been lost …. alot of stuff have powder, paste, something tomato. I will try this and keep looking for more on here.

MJ

I just made this today and I’m amazed how good and close to regular Marinera in taste and color it comes out to be. I adjusted the spices but it still came out great and I’m so pleased with the fact that it’s so healthy and easy?. Thank you for this recipe.

Adel

Very excited to try your delicious looking tomato free sauce fr my tomato loving intolerant family member so we may all enjoy Italian together. Thinking of also using it for beanless chili w a slight change in seasoning and ground turkey.

Johanna

I made this tonight and it was great! I was hesitant because I really dislike beets, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. I used olive oil instead of coconut and added Italian herbs. In addition to the lemon juice, I also added apple cider vinegar to taste. I didn’t find that the lemon alone created enough acidity for the dish to mimic tomato. I added ground, grass fed beef to the sauce and served it over sweet potato starch noodles. I ate a modest potion and felt STUFFED – much fuller than I would feel with the same amount of marinara over wheat noodles.

Erin

We have really loved this recipe and I wanted to share that we’ve used it as a pizza sauce and now to make a nightshade-free chili that looks and tastes like regular chili! I’d love to share the chili recipe since I have been a bit disappointed in the other nightshade-free “chili” recipes out on the internet. Thanks for the great sauce! I think this recipe will continue to be a work horse in our kitchen!

    Megan Gilmore

    I’m so glad to hear that it’s working so well for you. Thanks for sharing!!

    Jennifer

    Please share the chili recipe. Thank you!

Matthew

How well do you think this would hold up in a crock-pot if I were to make it for meatballs?

Kirsten

Hi,
Great recipe but in addition to the nightshade vegetables I cannot have onion or garlic. This allergy is killing me, literally. Everything has onion and garlic in it. Do you have any suggestions for substitutes of onion and garlic? It seems there’s a substitute for everything else but not these two super savory spices. Thanks for any suggestions, I’m desperate!

Marisa

My jaw dropped when I saw this recipe. I get really sick if I eat tomatoes. I was sad, I was thinking no more spaghetti and meatballs or steak and chicken stew. I’am so amazed and thrilled with this recipe. I cant wait to try it. Thanks a million!

Marisa

I will be saving this website to my favorites for sure!

Katie

Excited to try this recipe! I want to make this for a family member, but they can’t do onions. Any suggestions for a substitute? Add more of something else?

Beth Granitz

Thank you so much for this recipe! We’ve tried another similar recipe in the past but it doesn’t even compare to this. My husband has a nightshade allergy and we were craving spaghetti and I stumbled upon your recipe. It is absolutely incredible, we made it last week and are making it again tonight! We ended up using canned beets and shredding the carrots in our food processor to make for easier/faster cooking, and adding some balsamic vinegar. Other than that we kept just as you wrote it.

Alyssa

Could this recipe be used in other dishes besides Italian ones? For example, could I use this instead of tomato puree when making curries or enchilada sauce?

TifFany

Oh my. I made this and it’s delicious. I don’t think the kids will even know the difference. My hubbys tummy will thank me. I added lots of fresh basil and even kale and spinach. Yesssss. So excit d. Thank you sooo much.

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