At some point all children seem to go through an ‘I hate vegetable phase’. If you are responsible for cooking for kids, are in that place and need a solution this easy hidden vegetable tomato sauce is the answer. One of my son’s has a ‘hate’ food list and it gets longer, seemingly, by the day. Cooking for kids and especially that little lovely was driving me crackers until I realised that I could feed him vegetables of all descriptions just by hiding them in this tomato sauce.
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This sauce can be used for so many different meals including the 7 I have included below. It really does solve the problem (at least you know they are getting some nutrition) whilst you work on them actually eating the vegetables when they are in their whole state. It tastes great, can be batched cooked, made in one big pot and frozen and they never notice the vegetables – well mine have only noticed them once and that is when I really pushed my luck on the quantity of kale.
Hidden Vegetable Tomato Sauce
You will need:
1 tin tomato chopped
A carton of passata
1 beef stock pot
2 slices smoked bacon (use low salt or omit for very young children)
1 clove of garlic
1 red onion
1 stick celery
1 red pepper (the taste of this is most noticeable so leave out for the very fussy)
A large handful of spinach or kale (don’t go mad here if you choose kale as again this could be detected by the super fussy)
Pepper and Dried Italian herbs (to taste)
- Peel courgette, onion and carrots and roughly chop
- Chop celery
- Finely chop or grate garlic clove
- Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large pot which has a lid and heat on a medium heat
- Add celery and garlic stir for 1 minute
- If using chop bacon and add to pot
- Add courgette, onion and carrots and stirfry for a few minutes just till onion softens slightly. Try not to add colour to vegetables
- Add chopped tomato, passata, stock pot and water
- Take a handful of spinach or kale and add it to the pot
- Add dried herbs and pepper to taste
- Stir, cover and leave on a low heat for 30 mins or until carrot is soft. You want flavours to mix without reducing liquid volume too much (If you have a slow cooker you can chuck all the ingredients in and leave it all day blending just before serving)
- Use a hand held blender stick to blend together in the pot or transfer to a liquidiser and blend
- Either serve immediately with pasta or leave to cool and freeze in small portions
Quick Tip: If you taste at the end and can taste the kale or any other of the vegetables then add a small squirt of tomato ketchup. I know, I know it is full of sugar, but it is such a small quantity when divided across the number of portions that you get and I also figure the amount of vegetables more than balances it out.
7 other Recipes that use my hidden vegetable sauce:
- Chicken Korma (Style) Curry – simply add mild curry powder, double cream and chicken to the tomato sauce. Make sure chicken is cooked through before serving and add a knob of butter to the finished dish
- Beef Bolognese – Brown off mince in a large sauce pan and then add enough sauce to make a ragu style sauce. Simmer gently for around 30 mins to let meat take on sauce and vice versa and then serve. You can also do this with Chicken or Turkey mince for a non red meat option.
- Chicken and Marscapone Pasta – shallow fry bite sized pieces of chicken breast and once almost cooked add tomato sauce and a large tablespoon of marscapone. Stir to combine and then serve with pasta. My children also like pancetta added to this
- Beef Chilli – Brown off mince and add the pre-prepared tomato sauce along with as much chilli powder as is reasonable for your children. You could also add a sachet of chilli con carne mix if you prefer. Add Kidney beans and simmer gently for 20 mins before serving with rice and a dollop of soured cream
- Tomato Pesto Pasta – Take a small amount of the sauce (around 1tbsp per person) and blend together with basil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan. Add Olive oil to taste and according to how loose you wish the finished sauce to be. Stir through fusilli pasta and serve.
- Mini Meatballs – Take a packet of normal sausages and removed the skin. Divide into equal pieces of sausage meat and roll them into small balls. These should be bitesize. They seem to become too dense for little children if they require cutting so better if they can chew the whole ball – make sure they are small enough so that they are not a choking hazard. Lightly brown the meatballs either by shallow frying or in the oven. Combine with the sauce and serve with rice or pasta. This can also be done using mince if preferred.
- Pizza – we make our own pizza dough if we have time, but for a speedier option you can buy pizza dough mixes or even ready made pizza bases. We use this tomato sauce for the base sauce and then let the kids choose the rest of the toppings. Usually just cheddar and mozzarella in this house. It is a great way of doing a treat dinner, but still getting in that hidden vegetables! I recommend getting a pizza baking tray so that you can get that crispy bottom.
I am so sneaky!!! One day they will catch me, but hopefully not before they are willing to consume vegetables other than tomato, broccoli and cucumber.