Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pasta Sauce, with hidden vegetables

Ceci enjoying one of her favorite meals, at The Old Spaghetti Factory, this kid LOVES pasta and sauce!
I've mentioned this before, but my darling sweet daughter Ceci, refuses to eat vegetables.  I'm lucky if I can get her to willingly eat 1/8 of a baby carrot per day, so I have to get creative and hide veggies in foods that she is willing to eat without noticing.  One of her most favorite meals is noodles with sauce, she will eat it until she explodes, and then have another bowl.  She also refuses to eat beef, I don't force it on her at all, most days we give her some sort of chicken if we are eating beef, but apparently pasta sauce is an acceptable way to consume beef in her opinion.

Last week I made a huge pot of Pasta sauce for dinners, we don't mind left overs here and try to get a few dinners out of each meal to ease our schedule.  I managed to hide a zucchini and a half and several baby carrots shredded and ground up in the sauce, and Ceci was none the wiser, and happy to have her favorite meal for several days in a row.  I was happy to have something that she would gladly eat, and to not have to cook multiple nights in a row.  The fact that she got some veggies in her just made it that much better.

I can't say that it was a very remarkable Pasta sauce, but it tasted good, was filling, and had extra healthy stuff in it.  Can't go wrong with that combination.  Here's how I did it, and you should read this more as a guide than a true recipe, feel free to add in different veggies or spices.

Pasta Sauce with Hidden Vegetables

2   lbs of Ground Beef
1   large Onion, chopped
1-2 small-medium Zucchini, shredded
15  Baby carrots, shredded
2   22 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
2  tsp Kosher Salt
2  tsp Pepper
1   tsp Dried Oregano
1   tsp Dried Basil
1  Beef Bullion Cube


Delicious veggie mush!
In a large stock pot, brown ground beef, if using low fat beef, add a tablespoon or two of oil to prevent burning.  When the beef is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.  Place Onion, Zucchini and Carrots into pot and saute until softened.

Place cooked veggies into food processor and grind up to a thick slurry, this will allow it to blend into the sauce better and be less perceptible to picky eaters.  If you don't mind the shreds and chunks of veggies, you can skip the food processor.

Return the veggie mix to the pot along with the ground beef, and pour in the cans of crushed tomatoes, and stir to combine.  Add in the herbs and spices, stir and let simmer.  Use a clean teaspoon and taste, add more seasoning to taste.  I tend to be very light handed with the seasoning while my husband Tim is very heavy handed, some how we find a balance.  You will have to taste because some canned tomatoes are pre-seasoned while others are plain.

Boil Gluten Free noodles according to package, and drain off water.  If Pasta sauce seems to thick you can add some pasta water to thin it down.  Then pour a heaping ladle full of sauce over a bowl of pasta, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  You can also serve with garlic toast if you like, I'm lazy and toast a slice of bread, butter it, and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Definitely a favorite meal for all in this family, I hope your family enjoys it too.