There’s nothing like a good tomato cream sauce… especially if you can’t have cream! The secret ingredient may surprise you, but whether you pair it with veggies, pasta, or bread, this rich and creamy dairy-free tomato cream sauce will not disappoint!
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It wasn’t easy to find a dairy-free tomato cream sauce that was worth the effort, and I thought I had tried just about everything before I found this recipe. Milk alternatives were not creamy enough and usually gave an odd taste that I didn’t prefer, or had too much or too little sweetener. (My favorites to drink are oat milk and flax milk, but they’re still not my favorite to cook with.)
The truth is that tomatoes, pasta, and dairy might just be my three favorite food groups in the world, or at least the three I’d have the hardest time living without. During my twin pregnancy especially, I ate as much dairy as I could to meet protein and calcium needs. But when my month-old daughter was gassy, fussy, and had rashy, eczema-like spots on her face that seemed like more than baby acne, someone encouraged me to try cutting out dairy from my diet.
It sounded impossible, and indeed I still cheat sometimes, but my daughter’s health and happiness (and let’s be real, my own sleep) is more important to me than dairy. After a few weeks, I did notice a significant difference. As a toddler, I still notice she gets gassy again when I eat what I shouldn’t.
According to Kellymom.com (an excellent breastfeeding resource by the way) cow’s milk protein sensitivity is one of the most common food sensitivities for babies. Milk protein allergy or intolerance should not be confused with intolerance to lactose, which is a sugar. Lactose free milk doesn’t help.
Milk proteins include casein and whey, so I have to beware of products with added protein powder as well. Some people can tolerate goat’s milk or the new A2 milk, but they didn’t seem to help for me (I’d have to give A2 another try to be sure).
The good news is that, for my daughter at least, higher-fat things like butter (no protein) are okay, and I also eat yogurt and some cheese since I figure that the yogurt or cheese cultures help make it more easily digestible (sadly, fresh mozzarella logs are not made with cultures). Some people’s sensitivity is much more extreme, though.
Enough about that, and on to the recipe! As usual, you will have to bear with me as I tend to cook “to taste” rather than by exact measurements.
Please note that this recipe is designed for flavorful tomatoes fresh from the garden or farmer’s market, not the store-bought kind. If you’ve tasted “home grown,” you know there’s no substitute, but if you can’t get them, I’d actually suggest canned tomatoes or a favorite simple jarred tomato sauce in place of the the tomatoes and seasoning.
What you’ll need for this dairy-free tomato cream sauce:
- A blender or food processor
- 2 large garden tomatoes or 4-6 small/medium ones
- A pinch of salt.
- Seasoning: I suggest a sprinkle of garlic powder or Italian seasoning, a tablespoon or so of diced onion or shallot, or some fresh italian herbs from your garden. Don’t go too crazy though, because we want the simple tomato and creaminess to shine through. A tiny dash of powdered vegetable broth boullion also works well.
- 1/2 cup nuts (I suggest walnuts, cashews, or a mix of the two).
If you can’t have nuts, perhaps pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds might work for you.
Blend the tomatoes, nuts, and seasoning in your blender until smooth and creamy. Give it a taste. If you like it creamier, add a few more nuts. If you prefer a brighter flavor of tomato, add another. Add a bit of salt or extra seasoning to taste. To thin the sauce, add a small amount of vegetable or chicken broth.
Carefully heat the sauce in a sauce pan on low. Letting it gently simmer for a while will thicken it a bit and give the tomato a deeper flavor, but if you like it fresh and bright as it is, just heat it through before serving.
If you can have it, a sprinkle of powdered parmesan cheese makes it even better (contradictory, I know, but true). Nutritional yeast would probably be a good dairy free or vegan/vegetarian addition for added flavor and health value.
Maybe it’s just me, but I also love this sauce the next day as a chilled dip for chicken, bread, pasta, or whatever you prefer! I don’t think it lasts too many days in the fridge though, so use it up soon–which shouldn’t be a problem!
Enjoy! And let me know in the comments how you like it.
If you’d like to know more about growing your own fresh, flavorful tomatoes, click around my site a bit for tips and tutorials! You can start here.