I was interested in creating a tomato free marinara because my husband, mother-in-law and other family members are “sensitive” to acidity. Cold sores, upset stomach, even hives occur on occasion. This happens with strawberries too. I’m not sure what the cause, but personally, I could eat salsa or marinara every meal, so it’s a puzzling conundrum.

I do know that tomatoes are a part of the “night-shade” family (they grow at night) and some experts say they should be limited. Eggplant, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes have been linked to arthritis and migraines, but the evidence is inconclusive at best. In the end, these vegetables are high in antioxidants and vitamins, and are welcome at my table.

Except no one likes a cold sore, and I’ve seen the evidence. So I wanted to make an Italian style, tomato free marinara that would be welcomed by everyone. And true story on this, I hate beets. Really. I will eat them, but I don’t like them. I suspiciously tried them here because of the color. I started with one beet. It was so good that I went back to the store to make it again and upped the recipe to three beets. It was delicious, and not at all beet-y.

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash (or any sweet variety)
3 small beets (substitute 1 package of tofu if desired)
1/2 cup yeast flakes (optional…adds a “cheesy” flavor)
1 vidalia onion
1 red pepper
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp each: oregano, basil, thyme, parlsey (fresh is even better)
2 tbsp Olive Twist Maple Balsamic Vinegar (you can substitute 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp maple syrup)
2 tbsp Olive Twist Butter Infused Olive Oil (yes, it’s vegan!) (optional)
1-2 cups water

Preheat oven to 425. Bake beets and uncut squash for one hour. Allow to cool. Remove skin and seeds from squash, and peel beets. Place in a food processor or blender.

In a skillet, saute onion, pepper and chopped garlic in a bit of water and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Add spices in the last minute or two. Remove from heat when desired texture is reached, and allow to cool. Add skillet ingredients to the blender. Add one cup of water. Puree to a smooth consistency. If sauce is too thick, add more water.

Of course, serving tomato free marinara this over pasta is delicious. But I wanted a lighter, all veggie version. So I sautéed mushrooms, onion and bell peppers (any veggies will work!) and served over a bed of fresh spinach. It was delicious.