Ode to Tomato Puree! Do you have a fussy eater in your family? When R (4 yrs) was just starting out on solids, he would eat anything I served him. I felt so lucky to have such a good eater. As he has grown, he has become increasingly picky with his eating. There are days when he will just flat out refuse to try something new or eat any vegetables. Those are the days I turn to my secret weapon – my healthy pasta sauce that contains up to SIX vegetables! It’s quick and simple to make. It makes up to six child servings, and it can be adapted to suit your tastes or the ingredients you happen to have on hand. The best part? R LOVES it and will often ask for seconds. Hooray to that!
I first came across a similar pasta sauce recipe at Multiple Mummy last year and right away I knew R would enjoy it. I changed several ingredients to suit our tastes and voila! R has been devouring vegetables ever since. I will always be grateful to Kerry for turning R’s diet around!
Look at all those vegetables! It just makes me feel so much better knowing that R is eating all of those when he’d usually flat out refuse to even taste them. So here’s what I usually put in my sauce, but as I mentioned, the beauty of this recipe is that it can be personalised so just add what you enjoy eating or what you have on hand.
- 1 medium brown onion
- 1 – 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 – 3 sticks celery
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini (courgettes)
- half a small capsicum. Green or red is fine. (This is a pepper for my US readers)
- 1 bottle store-bought passata sauce (see notes below).
- olive oil for cooking
All of the ingredients above are optional. Your kids don’t like garlic? Leave it out. If you only have a white onion on hand, not a brown one, that’s fine. If you don’t have any celery, it doesn’t matter, leave it out. These just happen to be vegetables that we regularly have on hand. I add the capsicum for sweetness but if I don’t have one in the fridge, I just leave it out. Pumpkin and cauliflower would also work well in this sauce.
Passata sauce is a fresh tomato puree, seasoned with basil. I don’t use canned tomatoes in any of my cooking (just personal preference) and I don’t have time to make my own fresh tomato puree so I buy bottled Passata. It is readily available in Australian supermarkets but if you can’t find it in your area, simply substitute canned tomatoes.
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY PASTA SAUCE FOR KIDS:
Begin by chopping all of the vegetables. The great thing about this sauce is that it is blended after being cooked so your veges don’t have to be cut too perfectly or evenly. It makes the preparation very fast. Once they are chopped, heat the oil in a pan and fry the vegetables for 5 – 6 minutes over a medium heat until they being to soften. Usually when cooking with onions, I would fry them first before adding the other vegetables but I never bother with this recipe. I just throw it all in at once and it turns out just fine.
When the vegetables have softened slightly, add the jar of Passata sauce (or the canned tomatoes if that’s what you are using). Stir everything together, reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and soft. Stir occasionally while simmering.
When the sauce has cooked, remove it from the pan and transfer it to a heat proof bowl. Use a hand held stick blender to make a smooth sauce. A regular blender would work as well, of course. Sometimes the sauce may be a little thick (depending on how many vegetables you added. If this happens, simply add a small amount of hot water to thin it out a little.
Add the sauce to some cooked pasta, top with some grated cheese and watch those vegetables disappear! R would eat this every night if he had his way. The recipe makes enough for 6 – 8 child sized servings. It freezes well so I portion it out, pour it into zip lick bags and freeze them. Using zip lock bags means I can store them flat in the freezer and they take up barely any room at all. It’s great when I know R hasn’t been eating too well. I can just grab one of these from the freezer and in minutes I have a healthy lunch or dinner that I know he’ll devour!