Honestly, the phrase “nomato” drives me up the wall for reasons I can’t figure out, given that I usually love me a good portmanteau. But! I’ve taken one for the team with this Nomato Meat Sauce recipe, because it’s honestly the best description. And a lot shorter than writing out “nightshade free, tomato-less meat sauce”!
This is a big batch recipe, because it’s about the same amount of work to make a half batch with 1 lb of meat as it is to make this 2 lb batch that at least has a chance of giving you leftover Nomato Meat Sauce for your fridge or freezer. This isn’t a difficult recipe, but it does take a little time because you have to cook the vegetables down and then blend them into the nomato sauce before you add the browned meat and then simmer it again.
And if you really want that classic, slow simmered depth of flavor that comes from cooking the meat right into the sauce, it really does need some time hanging out on the stove top. It’s worth it, so I highly recommend you don’t skimp on that flavor-making time. And it’s the perfect Sunday food project that will leave your kitchen smelling amazing!
I like to make this Nomato Meat Sauce in a dutch oven and use my immersion blender to whizz the sauce together. It’s a lot easier than messing around with hot ingredients in the blender, especially if you have to work in batches to get it done. Using the immersion blender means that you can blend it up right in the same pan you simmer the meat sauce in, so you’re cutting down on dishes, too. Yay.
You will have to be a little patient working with the immersion blender. At first, it looks like the nomato meat sauce isn’t going to come together, but it will. The color at this stage will be much, much paler, too, so don’t let that make you doubt yourself!
The finished Nomato Meat Sauce can be used just like your favorite nightshade-filled recipe and it’s great over gluten free noodles, spaghetti squash, or even over a baked sweet potato or vegetable mash. Sprinkle it with one of my Nut Free Parmesan Sprinkles varieties!Print
Classic Nomato Meat Sauce
- Cook Time: 1 hour 40 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 mins
- Yield: 9 - 10 cups / 2250 g - 2500 g / 76 - 84 oz 1x
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, about 10 oz / 280 g or so, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 lb / 454 g carrots, grated coarsely
- 2 tsp / 5 g fine sea salt, divided
- 1 cup / 240 ml red wine
- 4 cups / 960 ml beef broth
- 2 lbs / 900 g ground beef, or 50/50 beef and pork
- 8 oz / 225 g drained, canned sliced beets (reserve the juice / brine)
- 1 cup / 240 g butternut squash puree
- 8 – 10 drained, pitted kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml lemon juice
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp / 5 g dried basil
- 1 tbsp / 3 g Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp / 5 g nutritional yeast, optional
- Reserved liquid from beets, optional for color (see notes)
- SOFTEN: Pour the oil into a dutch oven on the stove top over low-medium heat. Add the diced onion & peeled garlic, cooking until the onion is translucent but not browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the grated carrots, 1 tsp / 5 g of the fine sea salt, the wine and broth, making sure the carrots are completely covered with liquid. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, and cover the dutch oven with the lid, while leaving some space for steam to escape. Cook until the carrots are softened, about 20 minutes.
- BROWN: While the vegetables are simmering, brown the ground meat. Season the meat with the remaining 1 tsp / 5 g of fine sea salt and, working in batches as needed in a large skillet, cook the meat through until the fat has rendered and the meat is just beginning to brown. Transfer the browned meat to a bowl lined with a few layers of paper towel. Reserve for later.
- BLEND: Once the carrots are softened, remove the dutch oven from the heat and transfer it to a trivet. Add the canned beets, butternut squash puree, black olives, red wine vinegar and lemon juice to the dutch oven, along with the cooked vegetables and cooking liquid. Use an immersion blender to blend until everything is combined into a smooth sauce.
- SIMMER: Return the dutch oven to the stove top over low heat. Add the browned meat, dried basil, Italian seasoning and nutritional yeast. Stir through and bring the meat sauce to a very gentle simmer, not enough for the sauce to spit or splatter. Simmer the sauce until the meat breaks down and combines with the sauce and the liquid reduces and thickens, about 1 hour.
- COLOR: If you like a richer color, you can add the reserved liquid from the canned beets, up to 1/2 cup / 120 ml, a little at a time until the color deepens to your liking. Taste often as you add the beet juice to make sure that the beet flavor doesn’t overpower the sauce.
If you’d like a redder sauce that looks closer to traditional tomato sauce, you can add extra beet juice (reserved from the can) a tablespoon or so at a time until the color is deeper. Please note that the more beet juice you add, the stronger the beet flavor will become. Personally, I prefer a less pretty color with less of the beet flavor, but the choice is yours! To get the color you see here, I added a total 1/2 cup / 120 ml of additional beet juice.