Our Paleo Family

Hearty Nomato Sauce

My first date with my husband was to this wonderful, family-owned Italian restaurant. Ever since then, it’s been “our restaurant.” We would visit on anniversaries, date nights, really any chance we could get. We’ve even shared the wonder of this place with our kids. We would always order something with their tomato sauce and ask for an extra dish on the side. It is so delicious, I could eat it like a bowl of soup.

When I explained to my husband the foods that we would be giving up to follow the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) or Autoimmune Paleo Diet, he didn’t say much, but I could read his mind. “You mean we won’t have pizza or lasagna or spaghetti or tacos or enchiladas or chili…..?”

My timing for making this switch to AIP was not ideal. I had a garden full of beautiful, ripe, juicy tomatoes. I tried not to cry as I picked them and canned them. No fresh tomato sandwiches for me this summer. It makes me so sad just to write this.

We went on for several months simply shunning these foods that we would normally have eaten. But along came fall with it’s pretty leaves and crisp air and I wanted a casserole. Lasagna or enchiladas sounded so warm and comforting. I was going to have to tackle the dreaded “nomato” sauce if I wanted these foods back in my life.

I had made a couple batches of nomato sauce before. Most call for lots and lots of carrots or beets in order to achieve the sweetness and color you would normally get from tomatoes. But I’m not going to lie, I absolutely HATE beets. I’ve grown them in my garden because they’re so good for me. I’ve eaten the greens in salad. I’ve roasted the beets with other vegetables. I’ve pureed them into soups. If there is a tiny shred of beet I can taste it and I don’t like it.

Until now. I try to be pretty humble, but I think this sauce is THE BEST! It is just as good as tomato sauce. I promise! And it contains one, humble beet.

Even without tomatoes, I think this sauce comes really close to my favorite tomato sauce from “our restaurant.” The secret is the short ribs. You could use any cut of beef with bones, but short ribs are pretty readily available, easy to work with and lend an absolutely amazing flavor. Don’t try to make this recipe without some sort of beef bones.

This recipe is a labor of love. You need a little time to chop veggies, brown the short ribs, and simmer the sauce, but it’s mostly hands off time. You can simmer it on the stove or in the oven on a really low temperature. I highly recommend doubling the batch so you can keep some in the freezer. (you can double every ingredient, but still only use two short ribs and it still has that great flavor) I’ve used this as a base for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce and soup. Anytime you would use tomato sauce, you can use this sauce instead.

I hope your family will love it as much as mine does. I’ve got a batch simmering in the oven now. My husband is working from home today and he just said, “You mean I have to wait five more hours before I can eat that?” I wish you could smell all the smells right now. Just make some and get these yummy smells in your house!

Hearty Nomato Sauce
Print Recipe
A perfect substitute for tomato sauce. All the rich, hearty, slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor you expect from a slow-simmered sauce.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 60 minutes
Cook Time
4-6 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 60 minutes
Cook Time
4-6 hours
Hearty Nomato Sauce
Print Recipe
A perfect substitute for tomato sauce. All the rich, hearty, slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor you expect from a slow-simmered sauce.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 60 minutes
Cook Time
4-6 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 60 minutes
Cook Time
4-6 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Heat a large heavy stock pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add fat and swirl to coat bottom of pan.
  2. Sprinkle all sides of short ribs with salt and pepper and rub it in. Place ribs in pan and sear on each side. Yes, this means you will flip each rib five times so you get all six sides. You want a deep brown color on each side. Remove the ribs from pan and set aside.
  3. Chop all your vegetables roughly. This means you don't have to be persnickety and get them all the same size, nice and small. They can be medium sized and not all exactly the same size. First add the onions, celery and carrots to the remaining fat in the pan. Sauté for ten minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle on some salt. It should look about like this when you're ready for the next step.
  4. Add the zucchini, mushrooms and beets to the pan. Sauté ten more minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle in a little more salt. You really want to season at each addition. But go light. You can always add more salt if needed. It should look like this when you're ready for the next step.
  5. Now add back in the short ribs and all of the additional ingredients: broth, aminos, vinegar, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
  6. Put a lid on it and simmer for as long as you have. I recommend a minimum of three hours. Closer to six is even better. Either turn your stove burner to low or place in a 175 degree oven. I assume a crock pot would work for this as well, but I'm not a huge fan of that appliance so haven't tried it for this recipe. You want the meat on the short ribs to fall off the bone. Once you've achieved this, remove the ribs, use two forks to pull apart the meat and set it aside. Remove and discard the bones.
  7. If you have an immersion blender*, that's the tool for this job. Use your blender to make all those veggies and broth a nice, smooth, sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, don't worry. You can add your sauce to a regular blender or food processor. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for blending hot foods. You usually need to vent the blender so the steam can escape nicely and not in an explosive sort of way. Having to clean your ceiling would definitely take away from the enjoyment of this dish.
  8. Once the vegetables are pureed and your sauce is as smooth as you want it, add back in the short rib meat, stir and you're ready to serve. My kids love vegetables, but they are super spies when it comes to detecting onions in dishes, so I puree my sauce really well so they are none the wiser.
  9. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Tonight, I'm browning some ground beef and adding that to my sauce to serve over spaghetti squash. Since this sauce is made of almost entirely vegetables, and I'm serving it over vegetables, I didn't even make a salad tonight.

I'll freeze the remaining sauce (without ground meat) in quart size bags. For a pizza dinner, one bag will suffice. For another "pasta" meal or a casserole or a batch of chili, I will use two bags of sauce. Look for my favorite paleo pizza recipe coming soon!

*My favorite immersion blender is here.

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