Peanut Butter and Tomato Sauce. Seriously.

Peanut Butter and Tomato Sauce

I don’t really think of myself as a cook who comes up with a lot of wild flavor combinations, but I suppose there are quite a few things I’ve put together wackily: avocados and chocolate, hempseeds and chickpeas, tahini and banana, to name a few. Today’s recipe—peanut butter and tomato sauce—may be the weirdest thing I’ve done in the kitchen lately, but it’s also one of the best: a rich, smooth, salty-sweet sauce that works beautifully over pasta, in sandwiches, or over roasted or grilled summer veggies. Sure, the premise is odd—tomatoes and peanut butter—but really, the taste isn’t. It tastes like a typical raw marinara, but with a salty kick.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I served this sauce over a bed of zucchini pasta, which I made, for the record, with my simple little mandolin slicer. I’m waiting for a new spiralizer, which means I’m back to basics when it comes to raw pasta construction. Just as I noted when the Vitamix got sick, it’s always good to be reminded of the fact that a high raw lifestyle can take hold without a ton of fancy equipment: a few simple and economical appliances are key, but they don’t beg for much else!

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Peanut Butter and Tomato Sauce (high raw, vegan, gluten free)

Makes  1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cup chopped, regular or cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce, tamari, or nama shoyu
1 tbsp agave or maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till very smooth. If you’re working with a regular blender, you may want to try using canned, stewed tomatoes that don’t have many seeds in place of fresh ones.

Serve as you like!

It will, I promise, be love at first bite:

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Truly a delicious sauce. I may never go back to regular raw marinara again.

Obviously you can use almond butter or any other nut butter in this recipe: the thing about the peanut butter is that it has a fairly unmistakable saltiness and less of a neutral flavor than other nut butters. I use organic peanut butter moderately, rather than shunning it altogether the way some raw foodists do (usually on the claim that peanuts are moldy and contain aflatoxins), but I do confine my use limited to recipes and dishes where the PB taste is really vital. So using real peanut butter in this sauce feels sensible to me, whereas dumping it on oatmeal or into a smoothie—foods in which almond butter tastes just as good to me—doesn’t.

Whatever your feelings on peanuts are, know that this recipe, while enhanced by using PB, isn’t totally reliant on it. I think lots of nut butters would be good here; the point is to use a nut butter of choice for creaminess and taste. Experiment, and see how you feel!

Hobbit House Update:

Things are coming together nicely here at my little hobbit house, which has currently earned hero status in my book for being so naturally cool that even on the hottest day of summer (today), I barely need my AC. Hooray for subterranean living!

I’ve still got some boxes out, but crucial strides have been made. The pantry is full:

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Don’t you love the painted pantry door?

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Some books are unpacked:

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My table and chairs are clean and ready to study at:

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And some of my favorite artwork is up. As you may know, my mom is a painter (and an art teacher), and having her pieces near me is a very sacred slice of home. Here’s one that always feels reminiscent of Matisse to me:

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I’ve also hung up the Decemberists concert poster that my friend Tom had framed and gave to me:

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My Godmother is an artist who paints directly on wood. When I was younger, she and I would joke about how well suited I was to the monastic life—quiet, solitary, and studious. This was her tribute to that fantasy:

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And finally, the New Yorker cartoon that Chloe gave me years and years ago, when we were roommates. The sketch is of an urbane woman purchasing flowers, and the caption reads, “Do you have any that thrive on cigarette smoke and near total darkness?”

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My friend Eric always claimed it made him think immediately of me. I may not be a smoker any more, but I sort of agree.

And with that, it’s time to grace this new little home with some dinner. See you all tomorrow—and get thee to some PB and tomato sauce!


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Categories: Dressings

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  1. Just tried this out, was great! Will need to tweak it to scale well, but definitely a surprising burst of flavor on the very first try.

    Thank you for putting it together!

  2. This sauce is really, really good! And so easy that I will def make again! Very clever combo! 🙂

  3. Try natural peanut butter (I prefer chunky) on wholegrain bread, gluten-free cracker (whatever makes you happy) and then top with slices of fresh tomato…half a grape tomato works on a cracker). This has been a favorite since my childhood. YUM!

  4. Made this today for the first time and OH my god it is insanely delicious. I was doubtful that anything could live up to your classic marinara but you’ve seriously outdone yourself on this one.

  5. Hi,
    Yeah, familiar. I’ve been eating peanut butter and tom sauce sandwiches since the 70’s. And my Dad got it from his Dad. Funny that the R & D section where I work have never heard of it.

  6. Gena I just tried this sauce and it was DE-licious! It’s also kid-approved which means I’ll be making it a whole lot. I thoroughly enjoyed it over spiralized zucchini pasta. Thanks for your creativity!

  7. Great Post! I can recommend Banana and Chilli…. I tried this years ago at a cafe I worked at …. Sauteed the Bananas with a little oil and chilli…. maybe a splah of sugar in the pan to help caramelise…. dont knock it till you try it! Much love and admiration from Australia!! -Emily

  8. Annie’s makes a delicious tomato tahini dressing that I had forgotten about until now! Unconventional as it may be, I can imagine this sauce being really tasty– I bet tahini would work well too!

  9. I made an African soup from the cookbook of a friend of mine that called for peanut butter and tomatoes. It was a wonderful soup… not raw of course, but the flavors really did work together beautifully.

  10. I have to be honest with you. I kind of gagged a little bit when I read the combo :). It’s just not something I ever thought of. But everybody here seems to like it, and I have to admit that the pictures of the food do look good. You ay have convinced me to give it a try.

  11. I made this and it was so delicious! Did you just serve it with a salad? Is that a nutrient dense meal? Thanks for an amazingly yummy recipe!

  12. oh my goodness. This sounds good. The other day I made a tomato and tahini one by accident; I was making Russell james Tahini Hoisin sauce to go on broccoli, and in the end, it just tasted too strong, I have enjoyd it before but yesterday…just….no. No I threw in something sweet- a big handful of cherry toms, and voila.yum.

  13. Hi Gena,

    Love the topic of peanut butter with or without tomato.

    So, to seize the moment, since we’re on the PB topic, I have recently become aware of a product called PB2 that has about 85% less fat than natural peanut butter. I would love to add peanut butter back into my food repertoire, but had eliminated it many years ago because of the high calorie/high fat content. Are you aware of this item and, if so, what are your thoughts on it?

    Love, love, love your blog BTW. Am breaking my silence/lurking presence by sending this.


    • I’ve definitely heard of it, Jan, though I must confess that low-cal foods that aren’t whole foods tend not to really appear in my own repetoire. I think it’s a decent product for those trying to lose, though.

  14. That’s actually a flavor combination in African peanut stew. They add tomatoes to it. It’s sooo good. I never thought to make it into a marinara! YUM!

    You like The Decemberists? I think I like you even more! I think my favorite song of theirs is “The Mariner’s Revenge.” I love “We Both Go Down Together,” “O Valencia,” and “The Island” too.

    My favorite “wtf” combo is peanut butter & prunes. So delicious.

    I do think almond butter tastes just as yummy as PB on oatmeal, but in smoothies I find the almond butter gets lost in the taste, unless I add waaaay too much. Perhaps it’s my brand?

  15. Hey Gena! Where and what spiralizer did you get? I would really like to purchase one and am torn between a few. I would love to hear which one you recommend.

    Looking forward to trying the sauce. I love PB in savory applications 🙂

  16. In addition to loving peanut butter-tomato sandwiches, I also discovered a recipe in some generic “ethnic” cookbook a few years ago combining these two flavors that has now become a staple for me – “African” peanut stew. It’s basically just tomatoes, peanut butter, onions, and chickpeas, and then I have altered it over the years to incorporate whatever green veggies I have in my kitchen (spinach and bok choy have been big hits). Anyhow, I can vouch for this flavor pairing!

  17. Ha!! I love that cartoon! So typical of what NY can be sometimes, at least for the bar scene 😉

    Looks like you’re settling in quite nicely.

    The sauce looks absolutely amazing!!! I actually made a very similar sauce the other day and hope to post the recipe by Sunday. Mine had a few more ingredients than yours but the simplicity of yours makes it even more yummy sounding!

  18. I LOVE the cabinets! What a great idea. I live in a warehouse so I have the freedom to do what I want to the walls, the kitchen….whatever. I may have to steal your idea and paint my cabinets. What a perfect canvas. I also will be trying this peanut butter and tomato sauce. I love tomatoes and my my bf loves peanut butter. Can’t go wrong. Thanks for sharing! Love your blog!

  19. Gena,

    This looks delicious. I just got some tomatoes from the market, so I’m going to try this out. Tahini is also quite scrumptious in tomato sauce–it has a strangely cheesy flavour.

  20. Peanut butter and tomato is a really common combo in African cooking (both West and East). Super delicious. Love, love, love it.

  21. I think tomato and peanut butter sounds great together. I don’t have a high speed blender, but I never seem to have trouble with recipes where one is preferred – it blends tomatoes, and it will even blend carrots and raw nuts into smoothies.

  22. Why weird? if it’s edible, PB will only make it better. 😉 The recipe looks delicious and easy, as always. Can’t wait to try it.

    It’s nice that you’re making yourself at home in the hobbit house!

  23. Mmm looks delicious! And your apartment is so charming.

    How do you make zucchini pasta with a mandolin?

  24. Loving the hobbit house. Great recipe idea. As for tahini and bananas – that’s a marriage made in heaven. My weirdest and very tasty combination to date is half an avo, a red grapefruit, half a cucumber all chopped up and topped with a tahini/ carob sauce. A great breakfast. I bet your sauce would be fantastic with squash/ sweet potato. Thanks for yet another inspired recipe idea.


  25. Speaking as someone who has been snacking on raw peanuts all day, that sounds amazing! 🙂 You have a very cute hobbit home.

  26. Interesting combo, never thought to combine the two. BUT since I absolutely LOVE peanut butter I’ll definitely have to give this a try!

  27. Peanut butter and tomatoes is not an odd combo at all! I’ve combined peanut butter with much odder. YOu are right sometimes the taste of PB just has to be that. Even if it’s right off the spoon down the gullet.

    I have that same table and chairs. Ikea?

  28. This sauce highlights two of my favorite things, so I’m game to try! Yum! And I love the art in your Hobbit House, how everything seems to mean something to you. That painting by your mom is amazing!

  29. I know you’re not huge on spice, but one of my all-time favorite soups is a spicy African tomato-peanut butter combo with chilies. Absolutely fabulous! I can’t do it with peanuts any more, but almond butter works, too. 😉 Next I will try your sauce over pasta!

    I’m loving the hobbit house and so glad you’ve got some of your meaningful things set up around you. It looks like such a lovely place!

  30. This sounds like a combo I would of had when I was pregnant! Lol, no I’m not implying anything!!

    I love how all your art has special meaning to it. How warm and cozy! Your place will represent you! I love that!

  31. Um, wow, I moved in a year ago and still don’t have any art up. You’re about 800xmore with it than I am. And you thought of putting nut butter in a tomato-based sauce, which must make it super, super creamy. Awesome.

  32. Love seeing a glimpse at your new home! And I wrote down the pb and tomato recipe to try soon! Sounds good! I actually made zucchini noodles tonight for dinner as a side and topped them with a squeeze of lemon juice and rosemary garlic salt. Yum! Can’t wait to try this one!

  33. I think the flavor combo sounds delicious! Kind of like those African peanut stews. Actually, I used to work at PB&Co. and am quite well versed in odd peanut butter combinations. I don’t really eat peanut butter anymore but it’s definitely a versatile spread.

  34. While I cannot wait to try this recipe, I don’t think I will be using canned tomatoes … now or EVER!

    “Endocrinologist Dr. Fredrick vom Saal warns that a tin can contains around 50 mcg of Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen that has been associated to diabetes, heart disease, reproductive problems and obesity. Acidity causes BPA to leach into your food, and since tomatoes are acidic and usually canned, you get the picture.” Dr. Mercola

    • BPA is definitely bad news, but the Muir Glen brand is starting to use BPA-free cans. Eden organic uses BPA free cans for their beans, and glass for their tomatoes.

  35. What a genius combination! One that I have never imagined before but seems totally normal and delicious now that you’ve put it in my brain. Love that New Yorker cartoon, I can think of so many people that this reminds me of.

  36. I bet this is good! There’s a recipe in one of Sarah Kramer’s books (LDV?) that is based on PB, tomato juice (or sauce, can’t remember), noodles, and kale. I like to add a bit of nutritional yeast too. It’s super simple and quick, but really yummy. I should make that again, actually. And this! 🙂

  37. What an intriguing combo…I’m definitely bookmarking this one!
    Looks like the Hobbit House is coming together nicely. It’s so fantastic to have touches of home nearby.

  38. Gena I don’t doubt for a second that the PB + tomato sauce is awesome! Actually, I use PB in quite a few savory applications from using it as a coating to roast carrots with other spices to using it in rice & bean dishes and recipes I have. It adds a great depth of flavor. And you’re right…almond butter or other nut butters are nice, but PB is PB. It’s unmistakeable and sure one can substitute but it won’t be the same. Which is fine, just different.

    I have tons of PB recipes and readers always ask me if they can use AB and I say, sure. But it will taste different b/c AB is more neutral tasting, IMO.

    I do adore sunflower seed butter, too, and I need to start cooking more with that, too.

    Congrats on Hobbit House progress. It’s fun seeing all your wall art!

  39. I love this combo! I bet carrots would be good in it and could replace some of the sugar since they cut acidity too. 🙂

    You’re place is looking great! You’ve pulled it together impressively fast. I can’t believe you like the Decemberists! No one else around me seems to know who they are. All of your art is fantastic.

  40. Hi, Gena – I’m delurking to say that this makes total sense to me, as I grew up with a dad who adored peanut butter-tomato sandwiches. And I went on to marry someone who fancied peanut butter-tomato garlic salt sandwiches!

    Thanks for your blog – it makes my mouth water!