Nightshade-Free Meat Sauce - Paleo, AIP, Whole30, Gluten-Free


A nightshade-free Bolognese Sauce made in one pot, Paleo, AIP and gluten-free! This meat sauce is made without tomatoes making it a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet!


While I haven’t been on the AIP elimination diet in years, I still need to avoid large quantities of nightshades (especially tomatoes) to keep inflammation down.


Thankfully, you can still make a delicious, rich and comforting Bolognese Sauce without any tomatoes! I really loaded this sauce down with vegetables like carrots, onion and celery. In place of tomato, I use a can of pumpkin puree. Pumpkin makes an excellent substitute for tomato paste in recipes. Just be sure to add a bit of acid (like the balsamic vinegar in this recipe).


Ingredients for Nightshade-Free Bolognese Sauce:

  • Mirepoix: Yellow onion, celery and carrots to develop a base flavor

  • Grassfed ground beef: I would keep it at 85% to 90% lean – no leaner and no fattier

  • Canned pumpkin puree: To replace the tomato in traditional bolognese and thicken the sauce

  • Organic red wine: Add depth of flavor and is a traditional ingredient in bolognese. White white can also be used.

  • Bone broth: Provides richness and the liquid required to simmer for condensed flavor

  • Fresh and dried herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme.



Paleo Nightshade-Free Meat Sauce


Of course you need to serve your Nightshade-Free Bolognese Sauce with a gluten-free pasta that really holds up to this heavier sauce. I prefer a gluten-free rice or quinoa spaghetti for this dish. If you’re grain-free, you can certainly go with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles (tips below)!


Gluten-Free Pasta Options

  1. Gluten-Free Spaghetti Pasta: my favorite brands are Jovial Foods and Ancient Harvest.

  2. Zoodles: saute or roast at least 6 large spiralized zucchini and toss with olive oil and sea salt.

  3. Spaghetti Squash: slice a large squash in half widthwise, scoop out the seeds, brush with olive oil and roast cut side down on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.


If you’re a lover of Italian and looking for more nightshade-free recipes, try the ones below.

  1. Acorn Squash Gnocchi with Garlic Brown Butter

  2. Deli Style Italian Pasta with Zoodles

  3. Beef & Mushroom Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash



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Nightshade-Free Bolognese Sauce

  • Author: Alaena Haber
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x



4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound carrots, peeled and diced

1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)

8 ounces celery, diced

¼ cup finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

3 teaspoons sea salt, divided

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 cup pre-cooked and chopped beets

1 teaspoon cracked pepper, divided

3 cups beef bone broth, divided

1 13.5-ounce can pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 pounds ground beef (85 to 90% lean)

½ cup red or white wine

for serving: zoodles, spaghetti squash or gluten-free pasta, fresh basil, parmesan cheese


  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add carrots, onion and celery to the pot and cook, stirring every few minutes, until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, parsley, marjoram, and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot.
  4. In a high-speed blender, combine the beets with 1 cup beef broth, pumpkin, balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of the cooked vegetables. Blend until smooth and pureed.
  5. Add the blended sauce to the pot with the remaining veggies and bring to a simmer.
  6. As the veggies simmer in the sauce, brown the ground beef. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and season with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, fresh thyme and rosemary and remaining ½ teaspoon cracked pepper.
  7. Brown the beef until cooked through, breaking up with a wooden spoon into small crumbles. Add the wine to the skillet and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate. 
  8. Transfer the beef and any liquid from the skillet to the pot with the remaining 2 cups broth and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 45 to 60 minutes. Keep a close eye on the sauce, stirring to prevent sticking and burning. 
  10. Serve with your choice of zoodles, spaghetti squash or gluten-free pasta topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. 



Nightshade-free Bolognese Sauce Paleo Whole30 AIP