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5 Vegetable Sauce for Pasta, Pizza and more!

It's the ultimate in happy, low fuss parenting - giving your children a plate of pasta and a plain-looking smooth sauce, and watch them gobble away knowing they're actually devouring five different vegetables. Whether you inform your offspring of that or keep it to yourself is entirely up to you!

Although it's not just a hidden veg pasta sauce - scroll down to the bottom of this post for FOUR different meals you can make with this sauce!

This is a great one for the batch cookers among us. It's also a very handy one to get children involved in, as there is plenty of chopping to do but it really doesn't matter how neat or tidy the cuts are - so let them practice away with their Kiddikutter, Trakniv or Opinel knives. They will of course know what went in to the pot this way, but being involved in the making of the sauce may be all the encouragement they need to try it when it appears at the dinner table later on.

I use my slow cooker for this. It takes about 5 mins (by myself, add on several minutes for your small helpers ;) ) to prep the ingredients and then I let the slow cooker do the work. I've given instructions for using a heavy based saucepan on the hob as an alternative.

I use this as a pasta sauce, for bolognese, pizza or as a base for curry. Read my notes on storing and using the sauce at the end of the recipe.

Five Vegetable Sauce (makes approx 1.4kg of Sauce)

Ingredients:

400g Fresh Tomatoes

2 Medium Onions (white or red, fresh or frozen)

200g Butternut Squash (fresh or frozen)

200g Leeks (fresh or frozen)

2 Red Peppers (fresh or frozen)

150g Tomato Puree

6 Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil, drained

4 Cloves of Garlic

1 x Vegetable Stock Pot or Stock Cube (Recommend Kallo brand)

500ml Water (in 2 x 250ml measures) 

Sprig of Thyme or Sage (optional)

 

Method:

Peel the onions and butternut squash if using fresh, and chop in to chunks, along with the tomatoes, peppers and leeks. Add 250ml cold water and tomato puree to your slow cooker or a large heavy based saucepan. Crumble in the stock cube (or add the stock pot) and mix well. Add all the vegetables, sun dried tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves. Mix briefly to coat the vegetables in the liquid. Add the sprig of herbs, if using. For a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours until all veg is completely soft. For a saucepan, cover and place over a medium-high heat until the liquid begins to simmer. Reduce heat to very low and cook for approx 90 mins. For either method, if the sauce is beginning to look dry add a little more water. A lot is dependent on how juicy the tomatoes and peppers are.

Once the sauce is fully cooked, remove the sprig of herbs and blend til smooth using a hand blender. Add water little by little to thin out the sauce if necessary. You should need no more than 250ml max.

You should have approx 1.4kg of sauce. For my family of 4, this makes 4 generous dinners. So I divide the sauce evenly between 4 tupperware containers, leave to cool fully and then freeze until needed. The sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 days. Do not refreeze after defrosting.

Five Veg Sauce - Four Ways

Pasta Sauce - Heat and use as is, tossed with cooked pasta and a sprinkle of cheese. Add a handful of torn basil if you wish/

Pizza Sauce - Use as is or make this slight adjustment: To 350g of cold, cooked 5 veg sauce, stir in 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, pinch Oregano and 1 tablespoon Tomato Puree.

Bolognese  / Spaghetti & Meatballs - Brown 1lb mince or meatballs in a little oil in a heavy, deep pan. Once completely browned, add approx 350g of 5 Veg Sauce, a dash of red wine and stir well. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 mins. Serve with freshly cooked pasta and grated parmesan.

Mild Curry - Use your choice of diced lean meat or firm fish. If using meat, brown the diced chicken (or pork etc) in a little oil over a high heat in a deep, heavy pan. Once browned, add approx 350g 5 veg sauce, 150ml coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of mild curry powder and stir well. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 20mins. Serve with basmati rice and a generous sprinkle of fresh, chopped coriander.

For a fish curry, start with the sauce by bringing the 5 veg sauce, coconut milk and curry powder to a simmer, and then adding chunks of firm fresh fillets or fresh prawns. Cover and simmer for 10mins. Check fish is cooked throughout before serving.

Alternatively, s a can of cooked chickpeas for a very tasty complete storecupboard meal!

To make the curry extra special, you can add a little grated ginger and /or a handful of curry leaves to the sauce while cooking.