Updated: Nov 14, 2020
My kids are pretty good with vegetables, but there are a few that induce protests, like zucchini, so this is a wonderful way of making sure they get some variety in their diet. It’s like crack for my kids. I use it for an endless list of meals, but most frequently with spaghetti and meat/vege balls. I have used it for cannelloni and eggplant parmigiana as well with great success. Tonight my six-year-old said, ‘I don’t like it mum. I LOVE it.’ I have to say I agree - it's great for grown-ups, too! I basically just throw in veges from the fridge that need using up, including mushrooms, capsicum, courgettes, broccoli, carrot, celery, leek, eggplant... I haven't tried other root veges but they would be fine too, I think. Especially sweet potato.
About 10 child serves, I reckon, or 6 adult
2T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, grated
2 large zucchini, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp tomato paste (NZ)/purée (UK)
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme (optional)
a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped (optional)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 stock cube or pottle of concentrated stock (enough to make 500mL stock)
a squeeze of honey (about a tsp max)
1 cup/250mL water
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and cook gently until just soft, then add the celery, grated carrot, grated zucchini and garlic. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until tender - about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, oregano and thyme and cook for a few minutes. Then add tinned tomatoes, stock cube/concentrated stock, a small squeeze of honey and water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes on a low heat, uncovered. Then, using a stick blender (seriously... I wouldn't be without one of these. Mine is like this one), blend the sauce until as smooth as you can get it. Or, pour it in to a heatproof blender or food processor for a similar result. Serve hot with whatever dish you choose! I tend to pour it over browned meatballs/mushroom balls for spaghetti and the kids are crazy for it, as I may have mentioned.
Feel free to experiment with more vegetables here - capsicum would go well, particularly red or orange, and broccoli too. I generally don't need to hide broccoli because my kids love it, but this is a great way to serve it if your kids don't! But I will say that the celery is pretty crucial!