I’ve tried a few “Nomato” Sauces which were decent, but obvious impostors. I wanted a sauce I could serve to my family – and even guests – without anyone questioning whether it was a traditional marinara. None of the ones I tried delivered.
Since Nomato sauces are often based off of beets, and I was trying to hide the fact that this wasn’t a true tomato sauce, I couldn’t keep up the fake-out when I kept getting questions from my confused husband like, “Why are my noodles stained red?” And questions from my own head like, “Can they notice the strong beet taste like I can? Will they, at any minute, ask what the heck is in this?”
I came up with a few alternatives that separate this sauce from the ones I’ve found, but it’s the last one I’m most proud of:
1. The color will be perfectly matched to tomato sauce, and it won’t stain: Boiling the beet first releases much of the red dye, and the beet to carrot ratio make it a perfect orangy-red, and with no purple or maroon hues.
2. It won’t taste like beets: one small boiled beet won’t add a strong flavor – just a well-matched texture and color.
3. But most importantly: It will have that great tomato zest: I’ve searched high and low on the internet, and no other recipes use this trick. This recipe uses a mix of lemon juice and capers blended directly into the sauce. The combination of these two things gives it a glorious zest that made me smile from ear to ear after sampling!
Whether you have issues with nightshade vegetables, want to get a greater variety of vegetables in your diet, or just want to experiment in the kitchen, this recipe is a great one to try!
Note: I made this the other night and Chris commented, “This is awesome!” To which I responded, “Thanks! I was super excited with how it came out. There aren’t even tomatoes in it!” He was seriously perplexed and (not being a lover of beets or really any non-traditional foods) said, “I don’t think I even want to know. Just let me enjoy it.” Ha!
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 small-medium red beet, chopped into 1" chunks
- 1 small-medium yellow onion, dinced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (approximately 16 leaves)
- 2 cups carrots, chopped (about three large)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp capers
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Nutritional yeast (optional)
- Boil beet chunks for 10 minutes, or until just tender enough to push a fork all the way through.
- When done, strain beets and set aside.
- Meanwhile, Saute bacon in large skillet over low-medium heat until cooked through. Set bacon aside on a plate while reserving bacon grease in the pan.
- To hot grease, add diced onion and saute for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut bacon into 1" pieces.
- Add garlic and saute another 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add strained beets, carrots, bacon and to the onion mixture. Saute 5 minutes.
- Add chicken stock,salt and oregano. Simmer 10 minutes, partially covered (crack the lid).
- Carefully pour entire mixture into food processor. (A Ninja blender works well for this. High speed blenders will work, but the result will be a very baby food-like texture, and not like a traditional marinara sauce.)
- Add lemon juice and capers to food processor. Process until smooth and color is red throughout.
- Return to skillet, add basil and simmer 5 minutes.
- Serve over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.
- Sprinkle with nutritional yeast as a cheesy replacement for Parmesan cheese! (optional)
- Tip: Make it a meat sauce by adding a pound of crumbled ground beef and/or pork at the end with the basil. Simmer 10-12 minutes instead of five.