It Isn’t Marinara

Marinara sauce is one of the great comfort foods of the world. Slathered over pasta, steaming in lasagna, adding color to a plate of fried mozzarella sticks, just the sight of that bright red sauce makes me smile.

Unfortunately, I’m horribly allergic to tomatoes. One bite of that bay-leafed temptress would leave me gasping for my Epi-pen. But some days I don’t want a white sauce, especially with cheese tortellini. I mean, that would just be overkill. So I made a new sauce. Marinara it isn’t, but it is savory and bright with that whisper of sweetness that carrots bring to every dish they find themselves in. The texture and thickness are not dissimilar to a tomato sauce, either.

So go, gather your ingredients!

Oh, right. I had better tell you what they are first.

Carrot Sauce

2 T butter

1 pound carrots

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup white wine

1 T mustard powder

2 C chicken broth (enough to cover)

Sprig of rosemary*

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish

*You could use most any herbs you like. I have a rosemary plant bush on my porch, so I use that a lot. Bay leaf and oregano would be great in this, though, or thyme if you like it. Go nuts!

Peel and coarsely chop carrots. They should look about like this:

Melt butter in a large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots about 5 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more. Add wine and rosemary and simmer, stirring briefly, until liquid has reduced by about half. Add chicken broth (there should be just enough to cover the carrots) and stir in the mustard powder, then cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering for about 10 minutes. At the end of this there should not be much liquid, as though you’ve removed your carrots to the “kiddie pool” and the water’s only waist high. The carrots should be very tender.

Pour the carrots into a food processor and pulse until smooth. If it’s too thick and glops together like a dough instead of a sauce, splash in a bit more broth. Pour the puree back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, until you’re comfortable with the texture. I overcooked it a bit, which is why I could draw in it with my spoon. Oops. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over pasta, preferably with crunchy, crusty bread and a side of steamed asparagus. Or put it on a pizza. Or over eggplant parmesan, or grilled chicken, or– Well, you get the idea.


Substitute olive oil for butter, red wine for white (or vodka if you’re feeling daring), and beef broth for chicken. Nix the parmesan in the beefy version if you’re keeping it kosher. It’ll be dark and meaty and delicious.

If you want even more flavor, add a couple of teaspoons of miso paste and stir in with the broth. Add a small diced onion, or a couple of sticks of celery. Want it vegetarian or vegan? Use veggie broth and miso paste and no parmesan. Use your imagination! There are a dozen ways at least with any given sauce, and most of them are tastier than the last. (I haven’t tried all these, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t work. Beef-and-merlot did, and the color was fantastic.)


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  1. #1 by uforicfood on January 14, 2011 - 11:56 PM

    I don’t know how you manage to cope without tomatoes! It’s the one thing in the world I would hate to be allergic to – but it’s obviously made you very creative with your alternatives. This recipe looks great. Love the step-by-step photos.
    Lisa – Uforic Food

    • #2 by koshercorvid on January 15, 2011 - 12:27 AM

      Tell me about it! Tomatoes and strawberries. it could be worse though. i know folks who can’t eat gluten, peanuts, chocolate, etc. I would not be a happy corvid without those. The tomato thing is a big part of why I cook so often though–I get strange looks at the pizza place when I ask for no sauce and such, but homemade pizza can come with pesto, alfredo, carrot sauce, or anything else!

  2. #3 by Heatherly on April 28, 2011 - 10:18 PM

    I am excited to try this recipe. I am going to use it in lasagna. I just found out I cannot eat tomatoes(plus about 25 other things).

    • #4 by koshercorvid on April 29, 2011 - 4:29 PM

      It’s rough; tomatoes are abundant in almost every cuisine. They are replaceable though, and this stuff is great in lasagna. I hope it works for you!

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