GF Red Pepper Pumpkin Mock Marinara Sauce with Gluten-Free Meatballs



One of the biggest concessions I have had to make in not eating tomatoes or gluten is that Italian food is one of my favorite things in life. It is very difficult to find any kind of substitution for classic marinara sauce. The following recipe was inspired by a canned sauce that we picked up and looked at one day at Williams-Sonoma. The one there did not meet my dietary needs, almost nothing there does. :(. This sauce is my husband’s love letter to me. Actions truly do speak louder than words.

This is a labor intensive recipe, however you can eat it all weak and use it as a base for many other meals (gnocchi, eggplant parmesan, meatball sandwiches, a second round of pasta etc… the possibilities are endless).


GF Red Pepper Pumpkin Mock Marinara Sauce with Gluten-Free Meatballs

Free of: Gluten, Tomato, Eggs, Peanuts

Has: Dairy/Meat


For the sauce:


  • Carrots (about a pound)
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 onion
  • Approx. 5-6 cloves of Garlic
  • 4  Large Red peppers
  • 2-3 cups of Chicken Stock depending on desired consistency
  • 1 container of fresh basil (some for sauce, some for pesto)
  • seasoning (Italian (we buy the one at Sprouts), black pepper, salt, chili powder, red peppers flakes, onion and garlic powder)


  1. Half and broil the red peppers in the oven until they are really charred (as you have to peel the skins off, and they are easier to peel this way) on the outside. Once finished, seal the peepers in a plastic container to steam.
  2. While the peppers are steaming sauté the onions and garlic in a large sauce pot that you will also be using to create your sauce.
  3. Next, dice the carrots and add them in with the sautéing onions and garlic. Also, place about 1 1/2 cup of  chicken stock, and let the mixture cook for about 45 minutes to fully soften the carrots. Add the can of pumpkin puree at this point. (season to your taste with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper, etc.) I like my stuff on the spicier side, so it’s up to your taste buds.  Finally, add some fresh basil to the mix. Allow the mixture to simmer for the full 45 minutes. 
  4. Now back to the pepper. Peel the skins off of the red peppers and add them to the pot.  Continue to add Chicken stock to mimic the same consistency of marinara sauce. 
  5. After the sauce has cooked for at least a ½ hour, blend the mixture together with an immersion blender. 
  6. Add meatballs (see recipe below) 
  7. Then, let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Lastly, add your homemade Pesto (recipe below)
  9. Finish with a shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil.

For the simple basil pesto:

We use this delightful recipe we found on the Food Network site.

  • Add the pesto before the meatballs

For the meatballs: 


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian Sausage (for a healthier version you can use ground turkey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the above ingredients
  2. Form the mixture into meat balls of about 1 inch each. Give or take depending on how big you would like to make them.
  3. Heat a large frying pan on the stovetop to a medium heat
  4. After the pan is heated, add about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to fry them.
  5.  The meatballs should be cooked thru after about 4 minutes on each side.
  6.  Once cooked, add them to the sauce and let simmer for about 20 minutes.



Choices for noodles:

Everyone is very different about their pasta. Just choose whatever Gluten-Free pasta best fits your needs. Some of our favorites are below:


Enjoy your meal with a glass of Vino, and don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything in life! More recipes to come with what you can do with the leftover sauce! There will be leftovers!




Our Food Philosophy


Our food philosophy is simple. Try to eat whole foods, and as little added sugar as possible. The best thing about doing The Whole 30  was it made my husband and I really start reading labels. Although the diet did not work for me due to my food allergies, it made me start to realize what I was putting in my body. Let me tell you, there is added sugar in almost absolutely everything! The other really annoying thing is that it has a lot of sneaky names such as: corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, glucose, maltose, etc. According to sugarscience. org , added sugar is hiding in 74 percent of packaged food. 74 percent! That is huge! If you don’t know all of the names for it, you could be eating way more than you even thought. Now, added sugar does not mean natural sugar, that comes from yummy stuff like fruit. Decreasing my added sugar intake is the single most important thing I have ever done for my health. I feel better, I get sick less. For two people who spend their days around snotty teenagers, I couldn’t ask for anything better. It is quite amazing some of them still can’t remember to cover their mouths when they cough. (We are both high school English teachers).

Yes, trying to eat this way is difficult. Yes, trying to eat this way is more time-consuming. And having food allergies on top of that, is no picnic. However, anything worth doing is usually more difficult. All of the recipes you will find here are free of the following: gluten, peanut, tomatoes, egg (because these are my allergies). Some are dairy-free, or can easily be made dairy free with some simple modifications. Also, these recipes will be as low as humanly possible in added sugar. They are however, not meat free. Those of you who are vegans and vegetarians, I commend you.

The way we eat is simple, and my husband lets the food speak for itself. He does the cooking, I provide the commentary. It really is a perfect marriage.