This Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce contains over five different vegetables, yet your little ones will never even know it. It’s the perfect base for a weeknight meal the entire family will love, plus it’s simple to make and freezer-friendly!
Carefully disguising veggies in some of your kids’ favorite foods is one of the best culinary tricks you can master. If you’re sick of struggling to get your toddler to eat anything of nutritional value, stuck in a rut with what to make for your family’s picky palates, or just ready to mix up your dinner game, this Ultimate Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce recipe is for you! Work it into your meal plan along with Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls and Pumpkin Carrot Muffins and your family will be eating way more vegetables than you ever imagined.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s an absolute nutritional powerhouse thanks to the wide variety of vegetables it uses.
- It comes together with almost no waste – no leftover chicken broth or half-used whole veggies taking up space in your fridge.
- It can be made in advance – keep the sauce on hand for a quick-and-easy weeknight dinner or freeze it for up to 3 months!
- This recipe makes enough sauce to cover 2-3 dinners for your family. It’s every mama’s dream!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Fresh vegetables – You’ll want to include veggies that can easily be hidden by a classic tomato-based marinara sauce. I chose bell pepper, roasted sweet potato, carrot, zucchini (peel it to be extra-sneaky!) and – of course – an onion, which is the only non-negotiable. Otherwise, feel free to get creative!
Italian seasoning – Buying a pre-made Italian seasoning at the store is a great shortcut when making a tomato-based pasta sauce. If you’re cooking for little ones (age 2 or younger), choose a salt-free version to limit the amount of sodium in the finished product.
Chicken broth or stock – This (along with the tomatoes and tomato paste) will provide the base of your pasta sauce. If you’d like to make the recipe vegetarian, feel free to substitute vegetable broth or stock.
Canned diced or whole tomatoes – Either one will work. Be sure to keep all the juices for the maximum amount of flavor! And if using whole tomatoes, just use your stirring spoon to gently crush them once they are added to the Dutch oven.
Tomato paste – This will add just the right amount of extra tomato-flavor to disguise all the hidden veggies.
This pasta sauce is so simple to make, it will quickly turn into one of your go-to healthy family meals!
First, you’ll want to heat up your olive oil in a large Dutch oven and begin sautéeing an entire diced onion until it becomes translucent and wonderfully fragrant.
Once you’ve gotten the onion started, add in all of the other chopped vegetables, the garlic and seasoning. Cook these together in the Dutch oven for 5-10 minutes, just enough to get them started softening.
Next, add in the final three ingredients: the chicken (or vegetable) broth, canned tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a gentle simmer.
Finally, carefully spoon the sauce into a blender – you will have to do it in two batches – and purée it until smooth (or use an immersion blender and just do it in the pot!) You can then return the puréed sauce to the Dutch oven so continue simmering on low, or – if making the sauce ahead of time – begin to let it cool so you can refrigerate or freeze it for later.
Pasta sauce is great for reheating, so feel free to make this recipe up to a few days in advance.
If you’re planning on enjoying the sauce within a few days, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you’d like to save the sauce for later, you can once again store it in an airtight container in the freezer, or store it in resealable plastic bags if you’re short on space. And always remember to label and date what you’re saving!
Yes!! Simply swap out the chicken broth or stock for vegetable broth or stock.
Absolutely. Cauliflower, roasted butternut squash, yellow squash and even spinach would all be great substitutes or additions. Just be mindful of the color the sauce will turn out to be if you have extremely picky eaters on your hands.
This recipe is perfect served over any type of pasta, or even zucchini noodles if you’re gluten-free. You can also use it in lasagna! Sauté ground chicken, turkey, beef or bison to add some extra protein and top it off with shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh basil to round out the meal.
Other Ways to Use Your Pasta Sauce
News flash: This red sauce isn’t just for pasta! Here is a list of all of the different ways you can use up your batch of sauce:
- As a red sauce for pizza
- On chicken or eggplant Parmesan
- In an egg bake
- Stirred into polenta
- In chili
- As a base for minestrone soup
- As a dipping sauce for grilled cheese
More Recipes with Hidden Veggies
If you’re dealing with picky eaters, hiding vegetables into meals becomes a necessity. Here are some other fantastic recipes with hidden nutritional value:
Tried this recipe and loved it?? Be sure to leave a comment and five-star rating in the recipe card below!
Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium roasted sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning Salt-free for young babes
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 32-ounce carton chicken or vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper, to taste Minimize for young babes
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once oil is heated, add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until onion starts to become fragrant and translucent.
- Add garlic, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini and sweet potato and stir to combine. Allow to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and stir to combine.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth, and once again stir to combine. Bring to a low boil (very gently bubbling), then turn off heat.
- Transfer sauce to a blender in two batches. You may need to use a mixing bowl to hold some of the extra soup while you are blending. Blend until smooth, then return to the original saucepan or Dutch oven on low heat.
- Season with salt and pepper as needed, but if you will be serving this to young babes, minimize the salt as much as possible.