Do you have kids who refuse to eat their 5 a day. They hate the thought of vegetables on the plate. Well I have the answer to getting more vegetables in them without them even realising. I have created the hidden vegetables pasta sauce. Its such a versatile sauce and can be used as a base for Bolognese, lasagne, chilli or even on its own with some pasta. Its also way more healthier than and cost effective than a jar of sauce.
The hidden veg sauce is super easy to make and you can make it in big batches as well so you don’t waste any raw ingredients. It freezes really well and can then be added to meat or used as a sauce when needed. We make it in big batches then freeze in tubs it makes mid week meals far less stressful and quicker to prepare.
The vegetables you add to the sauce entirely depend on what you like and what is in season. What we have one week we wont have the week after. You can get some great bargains on fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets these days. There is a core few ingredients then the rest is what you choose or have. The below ingredients would create a big pan and make one pasta Bolognese for 6, then enough for another two meals to be frozen and used as either as sauce or in a lasagne
Chopped tine tomatoes x 2 tins
Peppers – 3 large any colours
Onions (red or white) 1 large or 2 small
Garlic – about 3 -5 cloves
Tomato Puree – about 2-3 tablespoons
Fresh herbs (basil and coriander) – we get the 1 of each plant and use about 1/2 from each
Fresh tomatoes – Usually about 7-8 plum sized
Courgette – 2 medium sized
Mushrooms – 8-10
Grated carrots – 2 big ones
We like to do things the quickest and easiest way in our house so we literally chuck it all in.
You need to chop the peppers, onions, mushrooms, courgette into cubes/slices and grate your carrots.
Add everything to a large pan, crush the garlic, add the fresh tomatoes (you can slice in half if you want to), herbs and tinned tomatoes. Seasoning as well
Give its a good stir through then pop a lid on the pan and heat on a gentle heat till all the vegetables are nice and soft. Keep stirring every few minutes. The lid is important as it will keep in the steam and make the vegetables go soft quicker and add a little extra moisture to sauce.
Once all soft take a hand held blender and mush all the vegetables up. You will have a lovely thick tomato and veg sauce that looks like a sauce from the jar but its packing way more in flavour.
You would then at this stage cook the sauce through with you preferred meat choice or just heat through if only using the sauce. It will need about 15 minutes as a sauce or longer when adding meat as you need the meat flavours to go in the sauce and the meet to cook through properly.
Meat you could add
Mince meat – You would brown all the mince off then add to the sauce and allow about 30 minutes in the sauce to cook through properly.
Chorizo – Pan fry some Chorizo slices/cubes and stir through the sauce.
Quorn – We have never used quorn ourselves but I should imagine it would be treated the same as mince.
Bacon – We often do crispy bacon pieces to add to the sauce just before serving to give and extra taste and texture.
You can use the sauce for lasagne. You would add the mince as above and then layer with your lasagne sheets and white sauce. We add bacon and chorizo as well to lasagne when we have it in.
The meal ideas are endless once you have your sauce base. You can play around with flavours and meals but most importantly its packed full of vegetables that I know my children would never dream of eating otherwise. We have sneaked all sorts of things in when we have some left overs in the cupboard.
The sauce is also great for entertaining large numbers of people its a cheap easy meal. You can make your sauce base then add the sauce and some browned mince meat to a slow cooker. Do this a few hours before people arrive and all you need to do then is prep some pasta and grated cheese. We always make this with garlic bread on the side at family parties and get some great compliments on the taste. Most importantly it doesn’t break the bank.
Looking at an old receipt I have to with some of the above items on I would say you can make the sauce for around £6 for the whole pan depending what you use. (peppers 63p tinned tomatoes 35p mushrooms 59p herbs 69p each tomatoes 69p) I love meals like this that are cheap versatile and above all healthy you know exactly what has gone in tis sauce no artificial ingredients just fresh vegetables.
As a large family of big eater this pan makes 3 meals for us. A smaller family could get 4 maybe 5 meals from this pan of sauce. You can use it in so many dishes. If you are looking for more family friendly, cost effective recipes and food hack to help keep costs down then Morses Club have compiled lots of different ideas. They have been working with loads of mums just like myself. I will be taking a look for any new ideas to keep everyone fed and some money in my purse.