Pasta / Bolognese with hidden vegetables – perfect for the kids


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.


  • 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


  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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