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NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce)

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NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce)

I know is seems impossible to make a marinara sauce without tomatoes… but wait until you try the recipe for my “NOmato Sauce”! This nightshade free pasta sauce is even more delicious than regular tomato sauce as it’s a lot creamier, richer and it doesn’t leave you with the upsetting sensation that regular tomato sauce provokes in some individuals.

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Nightshades (such as tomatoes, regular potatoes, bell peppers and eggplants) contain a type of lectin that can increase intestinal permeability, as well as saponins and capsaicin which can be stimulate an exaggerated immune response (read more about the science behind this topic HERE and HERE).

Also, the high acid content of tomato-based sauces and other products can contribute to gastrointestinal irritation, including reflux, indigestion and heartburn. 

Many people are ok with eating tomatoes or nightshades in general, but for those who don’t do well with them or who are on the Elimination Phase of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and need to go nightshade free, this NOmato Sauce is a godsend!

PS: To know more about the foods TO INCLUDE and TO AVOID during the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol, make sure to download the AIP Food List here.

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Personally, I don’t do very well with tomatoes, and while I did successfully reintroduce regular potatoes and some nightshade based spices into my diet, I tend to mainly eat nightshade free.

I have been making tomato free pasta sauces for years now, and I got to experiment a lot with various combinations of ingredients. I already shared the recipe for the AIP Tomato Free Pasta Sauce I used to make in the past, but I think that now a brand new post is needed as I changed that recipe so much that it became a completely different thing!

I personally prefer this new version of NOmato Sauce now and I always use this recipe, but I would love to hear what’s your favorite!

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How to Make NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce)

First things first. Let’s start from the ingredients. Kabocha squash is the main ingredient of this recipe so make sure NOT to sub it for any other type of squash or pumpkin. Kabocha squash is the most popular type of squash used in Italy. It has a very distinct flavor, a firm texture, similar to Russet potatoes or chestnuts.

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The remaining ingredients are: mushrooms (I used crimini mushrooms, but you van use any type you want), cauliflower and steamed red beets (in Italy, it’s really common to find pre-steamed red beets at the supermarket. If you can’t find where you are, you’ll have to steam them or cook them yourself).

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As per the seasonings, this NOmato Sauce recipe simply calls for fresh rosemary and basil, ground nutmeg, dried Italian herbs, extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan salt, a little tamari (or coconut aminos if you are on the AIP) and a little aged balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice to give the NOmato Sauce that hint of acidity that is typical of regular tomato sauce.

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When you are done washing and cutting all the ingredients fir the NOmato Sauce, the way to cook them is quite simple, as they are pan fried with extra virgin olive oil, herbs and salt. Only the mushrooms require a slightly different preparation that also includes aged balsamic vinegar, tamari (or coconut aminos) and a little full fat coconut to add a touch of creaminess.

In the video below, I take you in my kitchen and I show you step-by-step how to make this delicious tomato free and nightshade free pasta sauce.

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NOmato Sauce Step-by-Step

When all the cooked vegetables are ready and still piping hot, I transfer them in individual bowls and then combine them in my Vitamix together with a cup of water that I always add in at the beginning, so that it helps the blades to move smoothly.

I then add in the lighter ingredients and save the heavier ones to be added on top (the order I follow is: water, mushrooms, beets, cauliflower, Kabocha squash) and the NOmato Sauce is ready to blend! I set my Vitamix on high (on 10 if you have an A3500) for 30 or 40 seconds until I have a creamy and smooth nightshade free pasta sauce.

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NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25

How To Make a Tomato Free Sauce Taste Like Tomato:

Lastly, I add in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some fresh basil and blend for another 4 or 5 seconds. Lemon juice, besides giving your sauce that hint of acidity that is typical of tomatoes, is a strong natural preservative and helps your NOmato Sauce last longer.

Another ingredient that helps confer your NOmato sauce a delicate balance of sweet and sour, similar to the one of tomato sauce, is the Aged Balsamic Vinegar you used in the preparation of the mushrooms. This delicious Italian condiment has a fruity and tart taste, that gives the sauce a tomato-like taste. As an alternative, you can add replace this ingredient with pomegranate molasses, even though this is less ideal.

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NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25
NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25

When you are done blending, the NOmato Sauce is ready to eat. But if you plan on canning some and save it for later, you’ll have to transfer it in a large pan and let it get to a boil again before you transfer it in sterilized glass jars, because this allows the sauce to last longer.

When you pour your NOmato Sauce in your glass jars, make sure to leave about 1/4 of an inch (6 mm) of empty space at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims, screw the lids on and process your jars in a boiling water bath.

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You can enjoy this NOmato Sauce over a plate of gluten free pasta, zucchini noodles, pizza or even to season a vegetable stir fry!

NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25
NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25
Print Recipe
4.41 from 10 votes

NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce)

NOmato Sauce is a tomato free, nightshade free pasta sauce that's creamier and more delicious than regular marinara sauce and doesn't leave with heartburn!
Servings: 10
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes


  • Vitamix or other high speed blender



  • Using a potato peeler, skin the Kabocha squash, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Then, cut it in smaller pieces and dice them.
  • Wash the cauliflower and the mushroom, cut the former in florets and thinly slice the mushrooms.
  • Heat up one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a large pan. Wash the rosemary sprigs, remove the leaves from the stem, chop them finely and add them to the pan to stir fry.
  • Add in the diced Kabocha squash. Season it with Himalayan salt, dried Italian herbs and nutmeg, mix well, add 1/3 cup of water and let it cook with the lid on for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat up some more extra virgin olive oil in another pan, add in the sliced mushrooms and season them with aged balsamic vinegar, tamari and full fat coconut milk. Mix well, cover with a lid and let the mushrooms cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Lastly, cook the cauliflower. Simply heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan and add in the florets seasoned with some herbs and salt. Add 1/3 of a cup of water (you might need to add more if it starts to stick), cover with a lid and let cook until the cauliflower is soft but not mushy.
  • While these ingredients finish cooking, dice the beets in small pieces and transfer them in a bowl and sterilize your glass jars in boiling water.
  • Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Dip the jars and lids into the water, let them soak for 10 minutes and pull them out using tongs.
  • When all the cooked vegetables are ready and still hot, transfer them into bowls and get ready to combine all the ingredients for the nomato sauce in the Vitamix.
  • Start by adding in a cup of hot boiled water into the carafe. Liquids always go in first to make blending easy. Then, add in the lighter ingredients and save the heavier ones to be added on top.
  • I added the ingredients in my Vitamix in this order: water, mushrooms, beets, cauliflower, Kabocha squash.
  • Blend the Nomato Sauce on high for 30 seconds, or until you have a smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Lastly, add in fresh lemon juice and basil and blend again for another 4 or 5 seconds. Lemon juice is a strong natural preservative and it also gives your sauce that hint of acidity that is typical of tomatoes. Taste the sauce, and for a stronger flavor add in a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
  • If you plan on consuming the sauce within the next 2 to 3 days, you can simply transfer it in a jar and store it in the refrigerator. If instead you plan on canning it to consume it later, you’ll need to make sure it’s piping hot before you start canning. If the sauce is not hot anymore, transfer it in a large pan and let it come to a boil before you pour it into the glass jars. This will allow the sauce to be preserved longer.
  • Pour your sauce into the sterilized glass jars, making sure to leave about 1/4 of an inch (6 mm) of empty space at the top of each jar.
  • Wipe the rims, screw the lids on and process your jars in a boiling water bath if you intend on storing them for a long period of time.
  • You can enjoy your Nomato Sauce over a plate of gluten free pasta, zucchini noodles, pizza or whatever you like!


Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: AIP Pasta Sauce, Nightshade Free, NOmato Sauce, Tomato Free Pasta Sauce
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @littlebitesofbeauty and hashtag it #littlebitesofbeauty!

I can’t wait to see photos of the dishes you’ll create with this NOmato Sauce, so make sure to tag me when you share it on Instagram!! Don’t forget to share this nightshade free pasta sauce with your friends on Facebook, save it on your favorite Pinterest board and subscribe to my weekly newsletter so that you never miss a post!!

Lots of love from Italy and I will catch you at the next recipe!


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NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce) 25
NOmato Sauce (Nightshade Free Pasta Sauce)

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Ambra Torelli
Born and raised in Italy, Ambra visited over 20 countries and now she divides her time in between Italy and the US, where her husband is from and where she moved in 2011 work as university professor of Italian Literature. She writes about food, travel and things that inspire her! more about ambra

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  • Trisha June 27, 2020 6:09 am

    Hello from Florida 🙂 I am definitely going to be trying your NOmato sauce as it has many wholesome ingredients that my current recipe does not and I’m always trying to get more veggies into the family. I do have a question for you. About how much does one recipe make and could I freeze it instead of the hot bath canning method? I have done this with success on other recipes, but was wondering if you had tried this or think it would keep well this way.
    Thanks so much

    • ambra June 29, 2020 1:40 am

      5 stars
      Great question Trisha! Yes, you can definitely freeze it and I do that too often times. I simply pour the sauce in an ice cube mold and then heat up a few cubes when I need to use the sauce. As per the servings: I wrote 10 servings because this quantity of ingredients made 2 and 1/2 “Quattro Stagioni” glass jars, and I noiced that I used 1/2 a jar to season a pasta for 2 people. Hope this helps and I am excited for you to try this recipe!

  • Deedee August 21, 2020 12:46 pm

    5 stars
    I have multiple food allergies including all night shades. I decided to give this recipe a try with some reluctance, I really dislike beets. I changed it a bit since I’m also allergic to basil and can’t eat mushrooms. I added a large handful of spinach and added a can of full fat coconut milk instead of the water. I was hoping to cover the beet taste. I probably won’t do that next time. The sauce turned out great! Thank you for a wonderful sauce I can use for all my tomato sauce recipes.

    • ambra August 22, 2020 5:26 am

      Nice!! I am so happy to hear that! I love this sauce as well and especially if you are not eating tomatoes… this is everything !!

  • Lauren August 25, 2020 2:45 am

    Hi Ambra! Can you give the amount of Kabocha in more specific terms (ounces or cups vs 3/4 of a squash)? I find that the kabocha squashes at the market vary in size. Also, if I opt to use a frozen pre-cut bag, I have no idea how many squash are in that particular bag. Look forward to trying out your recipe!

    • ambra August 25, 2020 10:05 am

      Great question Lauren! To be precise, the recipe calls for 600 gr or 21.16 oz of kabocha squash. I hope this helps and I added the change to the blog as well. Send me photos when you make it. I would love to see!

  • Amber September 21, 2020 11:27 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is awesome! I added some extra balsamic and coconut aminos and herbs to taste at the end. I didn’t have mace and am doing aip so just used a little cinnamon… thankyou!

    • ambra September 22, 2020 8:10 am

      Thanks so much for the great feedback Amber! I am so glad to hear that! It’s so important to have good alternative while on the AIP!!

  • Jenifer October 2, 2020 3:51 am

    Hi! Is there a possible sub for the cauliflower?

    • ambra October 4, 2020 12:42 pm

      Hi Jenifer! You could do that but it would definitely change the flavor. I would add either roasted potatoes or, if you can’t have nightshades, roasted carrots. Ambra

  • Heather November 10, 2020 8:30 pm

    This looks delicious, and very unique compared to other Nomato sauces I’ve tried, so I’d love to make it. I cannot have coconut, and so substituting for coconut aminos (and any coconut product!) in AIP recipes is always a challenge. The closest I’ve ever come to it is to use watered-down blackstrap molasses. Any other suggestions? You mentioned pomegranate molasses which I hadn’t heard of before; I could also just use additional balsamic vinegar. Do you have a recommendation? Thanks!

    • ambra November 11, 2020 9:14 am

      Thanks so much Heather! Yes, adding a bit of molasses is great, but often times I simply add balsamico to my dishes (the thick, aged type) and after the ‘vinegary’ taste evaporates while cooking, it gives your dishes a delicious flavor!!

  • Julie November 12, 2020 6:50 am

    Hi Ambra — SUPER excited to try the sauce as my husband cannot eat tomatoes. Question for you, is there anything i could use instead of the mushrooms? He also has trouble digesting those. Thank you so much!

    • ambra November 12, 2020 9:18 am

      Absolutely Julie! I actually just made it last week without mushrooms (because I didn’t have any). I replaced them with zucchini, removed the dark green skin before (so they don’t change the color of the sauce) and cooked them with the same seasonings I used for the mushrooms but for a shorter time. It’s just as delicious!

  • Stephanie January 2, 2021 9:40 pm

    This looks so good! Unfortunately I can’t seem to find kabocha squash anywhere. I know it says it cannot be replaced, but is there anything remotely similar in flavour? Thanks!

    • ambra January 3, 2021 10:19 am

      Thanks so much Stephanie! You can replace this ingredient with butternut or buttercup squash. Hope you love it!

  • Monica October 22, 2021 12:11 pm

    Hi! Love your blog and recipes!! Can’t wait to try this one out. Can I replace the coconut milk with oat milk?

    • ambra January 29, 2022 10:08 am

      Sorry for the late reply, Monica. Sure, you can do that as long as it’s unsweetened. Keep in mind that oat milk is not as creamy as coconut milk though…
      Hope you enjoy it!

  • Katrina January 22, 2023 4:33 pm

    Have made this multiple times .my mum and i loves it . I use apple cider vinger 4 parts to 1 part maple syrup instead of balsamic.

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