This is not really a new recipe, its nothing fancy at all, it should really be on the tips page but I enjoyed it so much that I have put it here to have its own space!
At the weekend, I made my hidden vegetable pasta sauce to cover a basic pasta bake for my little one. She will try most fruit and vegetables but like a lot of toddlers is not keen on eating them in any great quantities and can be funny with the textures of certain things. Pasta sauce is a great way of ensuring they are eating lot of healthy vegetables.
For the record, I don’t really believe in tricking children. I want them to see what they are eating and to understand where food comes from. It is so important that children do not think that Tuna comes from a tin or that mixed peppers come out of a clear packet neatly stacked and ready.
So we make this sauce together, there are no secrets, she knows there are vegetables in there and it makes for a fun game getting her to recognise all the names (and she gets to make a loud noise using the hand blender.) Everything you do with a toddler can be a learning activity.
Heres a basic recipe of my sauce:
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Large White Onion
- 2 Large Sticks of Celery
- 2 Medium Carrots
- 1 Large Leek
- 2 Peppers (Any colour you have but red works well.) Option to use ready cooked jarred red peppers which work well too.
- x2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 Large Garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp Caster Sugar
- 1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to season
- Chopped Parsley
Chop up your veg first into even slices.
Heat the oil, cook the onion, celery, carrot and leek for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat until soft. (Lid on)
Add the peppers, if using ready cooked then go straight to next step, if using raw fresh peppers, cook these for a further 10 minutes before the following step.I buy a mixed bag of peppers and throw in whatever I have, on this particular occasion I used a yellow and orange pepper as I find the green a lot more bitter.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, simmer it for around 15 with the lid on then another 5 minutes with no lid. Make sure the heat is turned down to a simmer and the mixture does not boil at this point.
Once all vegetables are soft, throw in some chopped parsley and cool slightly then blitz with a hand blender or a stand blender if you have one as its a lot quicker!
Above: The finished sauce
There you have the hidden sauce. The next bit is the fun bit. What to do with it?!
Yes, its pasta sauce, you can smother your pasta with it, as we often do in this house, topping it with Parmesan cheese! I also have it with tears of mozzarella ripped throughout it so it goes all stretchy!
But if like me, you only have yourself and a little nibbler to feed, you will have some sauce left over.
It freezes well in an air tight container, so I often freeze this in individual portions ready to use.
I have used this sauce as a great tomato pizza base, rather than your run of the mill tomato puree. So much more flavour!
But I think my favourite use for it was at the weekend, when I smothered some Panini halves with the warmed up sauce so it soaked into the bread, then topped it with cooked chicken breast and cheese and grilled it! Add a bit of crunchy lettuce and I can honestly say I throughly enjoyed my sub! Very tasty and very thrifty using the multi purpose sauce! (And the 20p reduced paninis helped to keep the cost down…dont be afraid to buy reductions, if you buy them on the sell by date and they can freeze, do it!)
Do more with your sauce! 😉 x