Today I’m sharing a basic hidden vegetable pasta sauce recipe that is my ultimate go-to recipe for weeknight family dinners. Not only is it stuffed with lots of lovely veggies (great for getting some extra goodness into your whole family), but it’s also multi-purpose – this one simple recipe can be the basis of loads of different meals, from pizza to pasta! I’ve shared 10 different meals you can make from this one sauce at the end of the post, it really is versatile!
I used the vegetables I had on hand for this batch of hidden vegetable sauce, but it’s a very forgiving recipe so you can add or switch in other vegetables – it’s great for using up odds and ends that are lying about the fridge and cutting down on food waste. Other vegetables I sometimes add when I’m making this sauce include courgette (grated or roughly chopped), a handful of sliced mushrooms, chopped celery, spring onions, red onions, fresh tomatoes, chopped spinach and even some leftover beans or sweetcorn.
The recipe below makes a generous amount of sauce that easily serves 8, so I usually freeze half for another day. It’s easily doubled too if you want to batch cook for the freezer. I often freeze some in ice cube trays so that I can easily defrost just what I need to rustle up a quick meal for the kids – though we always try to eat as a family there are definitely times when a super fast meal just for them comes in handy.
This is a great recipe for babies and toddlers too – it’s full of healthy ingredients with no hidden nasties! I’d recommend using a low salt stock cube if making the recipe for babies under one.
Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 3 carrots
- 1 leek
- 2 red peppers
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 500g tins chopped tomatoes
- 100g red lentils
- heaped tsp Italian dried mixed herbs
- 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Prepare the vegetables – peel and roughly chop the onion, carrots and leek, de-seed and chop the peppers, peel and slice the garlic.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and gently cook for a couple of minutes minutes until starting to soft. Add the chopped carrots, leek and red peppers and stir to coat in the oil. Add the garlic to the pan, then pop the lid on and gently cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
In the meantime, make up 450ml of vegetable stock with 1 stock cube.
Once the vegetables are ready, add the stock, 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, red lentils, dried herbs and Worcestershire sauce to the saucepan. Stir to combine, then bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes or so until everything is cooked through.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool a little.
Blitz with a hand blender or carefully tip into a blender and whizz until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a little boiling water until it is at your preferred consistency.
Serve immediately, or cool and pour into freezer bags to freeze until ready to use.
10 ways to serve this multi-purpose pasta sauce
- Stir into cooked pasta, top with sliced cherry tomatoes and serve with a leafy salad.
- Add cooked meatballs, heat through in the sauce and serve over pasta with a sprinkle of grated cheese.
- Mix in butter beans and sliced cooked sausages – serve over jacket potatoes or pasta.
- Oven roast chunky vegetable pieces, stir into the sauce and serve over pasta, baked potatoes, rice or couscous.
- Fry bacon or chorizo pieces with sliced mushrooms, stir into the sauce and serve over pasta, baked potatoes or rice.
- Fry up a finely chopped onion and some minced beef, add pasta sauce to your desired consistency for an instant bolognese sauce.
- Stir into cooked pasta shapes, pour into an ovenproof dish, top with grated cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Spread over a pizza base, top with cheese and toppings and bake for a delicious homemade pizza.
- Use the sauce to make my 5 minute pizzas.
- Stir in extra water to make soup, heat through and serve topped with a dollop of natural yogurt and a sprinkle of herbs.
I hope you find this recipe as useful as I do, it really is the most versatile recipe I know and perfect for the whole family!
I hope you will want to try this delicious recipe, please pin it if you do! For more easy family friendly dinner ideas and recipes, check out the Family Friendly Meals section here on the Eats Amazing blog or pop over and follow the Eats Amazing recipes Pinterest board for fresh and seasonal inspiration all the year around!