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
- 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.
- 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.
- While these are cooking, deseed and chop the peppers and peel/chop the garlic.
- 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.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, stir and bring to a boil.
- 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.
- While this is cooking, cook the pasta, according to the pack guidelines.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.