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

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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

Print Pin
4.75 from 56 votes

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

A quick and healthy marinara sauce that is free of nightshades, sugar, and alcohol.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword healthy, paleo, pasta, vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 cups
Calories 90kcal

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 545mg | Potassium: 417mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 15155IU | Vitamin C: 12.5mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Per Serving: Calories: 90, Fat: 3g, Carbohydrates: 15g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 1g

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

VeLo

I made this recipe to a tee and it burnt 🙁 if anyone makes this, one cup of water for 30-40 minutes is not enough!

Vien Esquilla

This is awesome! Made it just now and it really made me think that it is tomato-based! Definitely will make this again! Thank you so much 😍

Michelle

Can u use canned beats m

bre Legler

I have been nightshade free for over a year and really missing my marinara. This was a great surprise! My whole family loved it and we will do it again for sure! Thank you!!

Jaime

Is it possible to make this without lemon or lime juice? I’m allergic to citrus fruits. Could I leave it out or replace it with something else?

Thanks!

    Megan Gilmore

    Sure! You could always try adding a splash of something like balsamic vinegar at the end, or just taste it and season as you like.

Michelle

This tastes so good! I didn’t have any lemon juice so just left it out and it tasted great. I stopped eating nightshades over a year ago and this is the best tomato substitute I’ve tried!

Sharyn

This sauce worked out well for a vegetable lasagna I was making for myself & my husband….he’s been staying away from nightshade vegetables since he suspects that they might be some of the foods causing inflammation. I wasn’t sure if I would like the sauce because I’ve never had an interest in beets but with this recipe, I was thankfully pleased with the taste….& the consistency. Both of us enjoyed the lasagna it was used in……so thank you for providing this easy, delicious “marinara” sauce.

Kelley

Hi! This is great but I was wondering if you can leave out the beets. My partner is allergic to tomatoes, beets, & vinegar, but I miss being able to have marinara sauce. Any advice? Thank you.

    Megan Gilmore

    The beets give it the red color, but you could probably swap it with more carrots? Let me know if you experiment with it!

Tawny

god sent this recipe. Thank you! Tasted sooooo good!

Joy

I transformed it into a stronger pizza sauce by adding 3/4 c Ruby port, 1/2 tsp basil, 1 Tbsp oregano and 1 tsp bouillon (vegetable, mushroom, or chicken all work. My 4th grader was absolutely thrilled!

I think the port is necessary for it to truly start tasting like the marinara sauce we know. It adds a certain body and depth of flavor.

Then again I was raised on sweeter marinara sauces so…

I really loved it. Thank you!

Sarah McFadden

Hi! I really want to try this, but I’m allergic to coconut oil. Is there an alternative?Would any oil work? Avocado oil has a really high burning temp. so I was thinking about that? Thank you!
– Sarah 🙂

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