I made a big batch of tomato-less bolognaise sauce on Saturday, and will attempt to remember how I made it, should anyone be interested in making a similar thing. I always think it is really useful to have a few ideas up one’s sleeve in case one develops an allergy or intolerance OR in case one is cooking for others with food intolerances.
Anyway I started by dicing three onions, and starting them sauteing in olive oil. I then diced about three large celery sticks (including their leaves) and I think I recall about 5 medium carrots. (Ok, so it was a big batch of sauce.)
I added them to the onions, along with five chopped cloves of garlic, and let it cook slowly, stirring occasionally until it was a beautifully-caramelised mirepoix.
I tipped it out into a mixing bowl, and browned one kilo of beef mince. When it was about half-cooked, I sprinkled it with about one heaped dessertspoon of sugar, and kept stirring it until it was nice and brown. (Yep. Cheated.)
Anyway once it was brown I sprinkled it with a good level dessertspoon full of a general Italian dried herb mixture, stirred it up, drizzled in some GF soy sauce and a LOT of white wine. Semillion Sauvignon blanc if I recall correctly. (Whatevs, anyway. Any kind of ordinary drinking wine, red or white, will work just fine.)
So I added the mirepoix to the winy mince, and also added a diced red capsicum and green capsicum, and a couple of diced zucchinis. I ground in a lot of pepper, threw in a GF stock cube, and a lot of paprika, which is a handy sort of spice for a sort of general savoury richness.
I stirred it all up, and diced a chunk of kent pumpkin, simmering it until tender.
While it was simmering I pulled out the secret weapon in my tomato-less arsenal. A jar of roasted capsicums in vinegar. I have to confess – if I wasn’t going to be using them in the way I did, I would have been mighty peeved, because the previous ones I have bought of that brand were superb – big bright red tender slippery capsicums, perfectly peeled apart from a few flecks of charred skin. These ones were smaller, not charred, and completely unpeeled. Tchaaaahhh!
Anyway as it happened it didn’t actually matter – I emptied the jar and rinsed them. I know the GF cookbook I read said that even grain vinegars contain no gluten, but I thought I would rinse them anyway, although of course that would not probably have done much as they were saturated in it.
So I food-processed them for some time into a bright red, sweet, fruity, tangy puree, which of course is the exact flavour profile we want with tomatoes.
I poured that in and watched with dismay as it completely disappeared into the general melange.
Damn. I had hoped it would make more of a difference to the look!
So I drained and mashed up the pumpkin, and stirred that in as well.
I have to say here that I am not a massive fan of the texture there. I added it because the person I was cooking for had suggested it. It was pleasant, but to me made the texture too reminiscent of chilli con carne with beans.
Anyway. I simmered it all together for a while, and it did end up with the nice rich red-brown look that one wants, and when I tasted it, it tasted terrific. Seriously wouldn’t guess there were no tomatoes in it.
Oregano helps too, I think, as well as wine, from a wanting-to-have-a-traditional flavour perspective.
So! Worth trying, I think.