So many dishes contain tomatoes, which, to a benzoate-free novice suddenly seem out of reach. But there is an easy alternative that works as a very good substitute – sweet potatoes.
I’m aware that there are other alternatives to tomato sauce out there but this seems to be the easiest to me as it has the fewest ingredients in it, as opposed to the others which have four or five different vegetables in at the very least.
Standard, supermarket-version sweet potatoes are essential, don’t use yams as even though most people think that they are the same thing, they are not. They should be firm and hard when fresh, a little tough to peel but not that much different to a standard potato, and preferably a vivid orange in colour (as this gives the best results if you’re trying to hide the fact that it’s not tomato!)
Suitable for using in a meal planned for 4 to 6 people
3 large or 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper
Variously, depending on recipe & taste:
liquid gravy browning (this is an unflavoured liquid containing nothing more than caramel brown colouring [E150], water and a little sugar and salt; gravy granules or pastes or other flavoured or thickened gravies are NOT suitable)
1) Peel and chop sweet potatoes. They discolour very quickly so keep chopped pieces in a bowl of cold water whilst you prepare the rest.
2) Put in a pan, bring to the boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft.
3) Drain, reserving the water for future use (depending on what recipe you are cooking, see below)
4) Mash the potato pieces until smooth. Season with a little salt and pepper
5) Blend with herbs, oil, vinegar and reserved cooking water as necessary and to taste. You won’t need the water if you are making a pizza base sauce, but you might want it for chilli con carne or spaghetti. Start with ½ teaspoon of each herb, 1 teaspoon of oil, a drop of browning and a small shake of vinegar; taste and add more of each/all as required.
6) Note that this is only suitable for hot dishes where tinned tomatoes or tomato puree would be added; it is not a substitute for relish or ketchup. And although it is a close substitute it doesn’t taste exactly like tomato sauce, although it has roughly the same consistency.