Pasta / Bolognese with hidden vegetables – perfect for the kids

kid-friendly-pasta-sauce
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We have multiple children and getting them all to eat the same veg at the same time is a bit of a nightmare, so I thought I’d try hiding a whole bunch of veg in some sauce to see if I could get away with it.  I did.

All kids seem to go through the “I’m not eating my vegetables” stage, so it’s not something I worry about, mainly.  However, they do still need to consume as many of the life-boosting plants as possible.  After poking around in the fridge, I found some veg that I thought would cook down well and decided to give this sauce a go.

You can make this with, or without, the meat element.  If you use the meat, you end up a with a tasty bolognese.  However, if you prefer just a light pasta sauce, it will work just as well without.  I’ve written the recipe in such a way as you can do either.

Ingredients:

  • 500g lean mince (optional, see below)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 leek
  • 2 peppers (red or yellow)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • 300 – 400g spaghetti or penne pasta (dried)
  • A gulp of oil; olive or vegetable

Method:

  1. Chop the carrots, onion, leek and celery in pieces.  Smallish pieces, although the size doesn’t matter.  Getting everything around the same size is the most important thing here.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a large non-stick pan and start to cook the above.  You are looking to soften these, not brown them, so an extended time over a lower heat is best.  Around 20 minutes.
  3. While these are cooking, deseed and chop the peppers and peel/chop the garlic.
  4. When the carrot, celery, onion and leek are softening, add the pepper and the garlic and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes.  Again, keeping the heat low so as not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, stir and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat down again and cook for a further 20 minutes.  The longer, the better here actually.  I put a lid on and cook for around 40-45 minutes.  If you don’t have a cover for your pan, add a little water every now and again if the sauce is looking a bit thick.
  7. While this is cooking, cook the pasta, according to the pack guidelines.
  8. Once everything is soft and melded together, blitz the mixture with either a hand blender (soup blender), or if you want a super thin hidden veg sauce, pop it in a food processor and blitz on high speed for a few minutes.  It may pay you to let it cool a bit before using the food processor option.
  9. While in the blender, or using a separate pan if you want to save time, brown the mince.  Get it nice and hot, and beautiful brown as this caramelisation adds a mass of flavour.
  10. Once you have some browned mince, a sauce and some cooked pasta, combine all in a pot and serve.

This dish is lovely with some grated parmesan on top.

I’m not a chef so the instructions may be a little awkward.  It may pay you to read through the method first and get everything done into your order.

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