Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cooking Experiment: Nomato Sauce, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, and Sloppy Joes

Tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers are probably my three most favorite vegetables. Most of my recipes consist of one of these three ingredients and we probably have at least one of the three every day. They are all a type of vegetable called nightshades. It turns out, nightshades have a particular alkaloid in them that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. I've never had a problem with them, so I've never thought twice about nightshade allergies.

Then, I suddenly had to think about it. My almost-sister found out she's allergic to nightshades. So besides tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, she also has to avoid chili peppers of all kinds, chili powder, cayenne powder, curry, and paprika, and a slew of other items. Suddenly, I had to rethink a lot of my recipes whenever she came over to make sure I didn't expose her to any of these things. Which is a bummer because these are some of my favorite veggies and spices.

She told me about a pasta sauce that had been created called Nomato Sauce. It's a pasta sauce made with no tomatoes, as the name implies. It actually contains no nightshades at all. But at $6.00 for 16oz, its a bit pricey. I decided to do some digging and I found a recipe for the sauce that has all the same ingredients in it as the jarred stuff, minus a preservative. After some research, I also found recipes for nomato ketchup, and nomato BBQ sauce. I told my sister, and she was immediately intrigued, as was I. I decided to give it a go

Nomato Sauce:
A combination of carrots, beets, onions, and spices all pureed up to a smooth sauce. I gotta admit, I was skeptical. I am a lover of tomatoes and figured it was going to be difficult to mimic the flavor. But, I like beets and I like carrots, so I tried to stay open minded.

Nomato Sauce
I was surprised at the consistency and color of this sauce. It's texture is almost like crushed tomatoes, and the color is a vibrant red because of the beets. I was also surprised by the taste! It actually tastes like tomato sauce! You can tell its not QUITE the same, but its close enough that I doubt few people would notice. It fooled my 2 year old! The carrots keep it sweet, while the lemon juice gives a bit of tang, and it finishes with a slight beet flavor. I was really surprised by this and I look forward to letting my sister try it! It only took me about 30 minutes to make, which isn't bad considering a good tomato sauce can simmer for an hour or more.

Nomato Ketchup:
This recipe caught me by surprise. Jellied cranberry sauce? Halved pears? Corn syrup? This is gonna be one super sweet ketchup!! I added everything to the blender and then took a whiff before blending. It smelled like ketchup!
Nomato Ketchup
This one, too, was a surprise. It actually tasted like ketchup! It's hard to believe that there was all that fruit and no tomatoes. The flavor was a bit strong, and I think it may have to do with the fact that I was a short a little on the cranberry sauce, pears, and carrots. My cans were 14.5oz and the recipe called for 16oz. This one will have to be played around with a little bit to get the spice levels right, but its definitely tasty and would be a great substitute for ketchup! And it was SO easy! Just put everything into a blender and puree! It has a great smooth texture that's just like ketchup

Nomato BBQ Sauce:
Since the ketchup recipe made SO MUCH (read 4 cups!), I found this derivative of the ketchup to make BBQ sauce. I love BBQ sauce and I love the flavor of meatballs simmering in BBQ sauce. The first time I made this, I just tossed everything in the blender and mixed it all up. I found the soy sauce to be quite overwhelming to the point where I would want to halve it at least. After looking at it again, I realized that you're actually supposed to cook this one for 10 minutes, which will allow the flavors to blend together, the brown sugar to melt, and lessen the sharpness of the soy sauce.

Nomato BBQ Sauce - 1st batch

The second batch was much better. It was still very flavorful and you could definitely taste the soy sauce, but the brown sugar melted into the sauce and counteracted the tartness of the soy sauce. It was also a much darker color. I could definitely imagine having this on ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, or chicken. Travis said the flavor was a bit strong for him, but he's not a huge BBQ fan.
Nomato BBQ sauce - 2nd batch. Look at the color difference!

Nightshade Free Sloppy Joes
So, now that I had all this sauce, what in the world was I going to do with it all? I remembered that my sister told me that she really missed sloppy joes. So, I decided that I was going to try to make nightshade free sloppy joes using the sauces that I had made today. This sloppy joe recipe is one of our favorites, and the meal in general has a very distinctive flavor. I wasn't sure how well it was going to turn out since I wouldn't be able to add any chili powder, and the only substitutes I could find were all nightshades.

I followed the recipe using the nomato sauce instead of the crushed tomatoes, nomato ketchup instead of regular ketchup, and leaving out the bell peppers and chili powder. I ended up having to add 1 1/4 cups of water as the sauce simmered, and I think it toned down the flavor a bit. Next time, I will probably try vegetable broth or chicken broth to help maintain the flavor.

All in all, though, it was really tasty. While it wasn't an exact flavor match, it was pretty darn close, and using broth instead of water may help to keep the flavors strong. It definitely didn't taste bad, and my family (including the 2 year old!), ate more than half of what I made.

The overall verdict:
Nomato Sauce:
Easy to make, beautiful color, quite tasty. This one gets a solid 4 stitches

Nomato Ketchup:
Great texture, slightly strong flavor. Tastes really good as part of a recipe. This one also gets 4 stitches

Nomato BBQ Sauce:
Strong soy sauce flavor, but much better after simmered. Definitely tastes like BBQ sauce. This one gets 3 stars.

Nightshade Free Sloppy Joes:
Even though the flavor wasn't an exact match, it was still very tasty and still sloppy. If I could find a good substitute for chili powder, this would be very awesome. 4 stitches!

My Almost-Sister's Reaction:
She loved it all, and was so happy and grateful that I was able to find these recipes! She told me that sometimes she'll beg her fiance to make her spaghetti or pizza with tomatoes because she misses the flavor so much - and like a good fiance, he refuses. Now, he doesn't have to! I sent the rest of the sloppy joes home with her so he could try them, and while he doesn't care for sloppy joes, he said he they weren't bad and he was thrilled that they now had a way to incorporate some tomato based recipes into circulation for her sake.


Anonymous said...

Have you posted the recipes for these? I would love to try them!

Sara with an H said...

The recipes are linked in the titles of each section. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Your link for Nomato Sauce doesn't work. It links to a Chinese site for Gluten Free and Beyond

Sara with an H said...

Thanks! It worked when I published the page. I guess they got taken down. If you want the recipe, feel free to email me @

Anonymous said...

If your BBQ sauce has too much of a soy flavour...try using coconut aminos instead of the soy, it gives you the flavour without overpowering it.

Flute said...

If you go to the one working link and read down the forums there is a recipe for nomato sauce. It's different than the one the author here has. Thank you for these recipes. I had bad heartburn (I do have GERD) and thought it was from the tomato sauce in my sloppy joes I made.