How to Sneak Vegetables Into Your Kid’s Spaghetti (With Recipe)

Updated on November 7, 2019
lani81 profile image

As an athlete and mother of two young children, Lani is always looking for new ways to present her family with tasty and nutritious meals.

You can't spot the veggies, can you? They're well blended into the sauce, concealing them from the skeptical, judging eyes of your children.
You can't spot the veggies, can you? They're well blended into the sauce, concealing them from the skeptical, judging eyes of your children. | Source

Eat Your Veggies!

It is not always easy to get kids to eat more vegetables and healthy foods. Even for my broccoli loving, salad craving, somewhat sugar-phobic children, it can be a challenge. When it comes to spaghetti, it can be even more difficult.

Let’s be honest; the conventional American interpretation of spaghetti is already void of creativity and vegetable variety. Most variation in this dish is in the form of herbs, spices, and meat choice. Many of us are accustomed to adding a simple side salad to this meal to round out the nutritional value. I have always found the “side salad” remedy to be too much food—especially when saving space for garlic bread. Every once in a while, you may discover mushrooms, olives, and onions featured individually. The recipe that follows offers infinite options for vegetable inclusion, quickly increasing nutrition value and taste.

Freshly picked tomato variety and garlic chives.  Veggie starter mix also includes onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, thyme, and basil.
Freshly picked tomato variety and garlic chives. Veggie starter mix also includes onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, thyme, and basil. | Source

Ingredients

*This recipe requires a blender or food processor

Vegetable Starter

  • 3 cups chopped vegetables (e.g., carrots, onions, zucchini, celery, baby spinach, mushrooms, red/green/yellow/orange peppers, butternut squash, etc.)
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¾ cups oil (vegetable, olive, canola)
  • ¼ cup white or red wine vinegar
  • Cumin

Herbs and Spices

All optional, be creative. Only choose one or two, as these herbs are often already present in the actual tomato-based spaghetti sauce. Generally, I add only fresh herbs to the vegetable starter and leave any dry herbs for the final sauce. These are my go-to choices:

  • Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary (fresh or dried, depending on the season)

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 large can of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 to 2 lbs meat of your choice (I like ground turkey, Italian sausages, and smoked sausage)

Instructions

  1. Chop all your vegetables into medium to large pieces and set aside.
  2. Add ¾ cups oil to a large skillet, saucepan or wok on medium heat and allow the oil to heat up before adding all your vegetables, minced garlic, red/white wine, cumin, and other herbs and spices.
  3. Stir the mixture well, distributing the oil throughout the veggies. To avoid burning your vegetables, resist the urge to turn up the heat.
  4. Over medium heat, simmer your vegetables until your hardest veggies soften up, this may take up to 20 or more minutes depending on type and thickness of your vegetables.
  5. Once your veggies are soft enough, move the entire mixture (liquids and all) to the blender and put it on a high revolution setting such as smoothie or puree. Blend your veggies until there are no chunks. At this point in the summer, the majority of my vegetables are straight from the garden; during the colder months this recipe is equally excellent with store-bought produce.
  6. When the vegetables finish blending and you are satisfied with the consistency, your vegetable starter is finished. If you've made a big batch, you can pour the portion you're not using now into canning jars and seal them up for later use.
  7. Next, if you are planning to include meat in your sauce, brown the meat in your in a pot or saucepan. Add your veggie starter mix to the browned meat and stir thoroughly.
  8. Add any remaining herbs and spices you’d like (I usually add an Italian blend of dried herbs and cumin to the final sauce during this step).
  9. Let the sauce simmer on medium to low heat for at least 10 more minutes.
  10. Boil your noodles while simmering your sauce.

  11. Once your noodles are to your liking, portion them out to your hungry family members and/or friends and enjoy a nutritious twist to a wonderfully traditional meal.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is my latest version of a spaghetti veggie starter mix.  This mix was later canned and features zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and arugula.All blended upCanned veggie starter mix and a jar of store bought tomato pasta sauce.Browing ground turkey and onions.Canned veggie starter added to ground turkey.Ground turkey and veggie starter mix.Adding pasta sauce.Adding tomato paste,Added spices.Completed sauce.Enjoy!!
This is my latest version of a spaghetti veggie starter mix.  This mix was later canned and features zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and arugula.
This is my latest version of a spaghetti veggie starter mix. This mix was later canned and features zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and arugula. | Source
All blended up
All blended up | Source
Canned veggie starter mix and a jar of store bought tomato pasta sauce.
Canned veggie starter mix and a jar of store bought tomato pasta sauce. | Source
Browing ground turkey and onions.
Browing ground turkey and onions. | Source
Canned veggie starter added to ground turkey.
Canned veggie starter added to ground turkey. | Source
Ground turkey and veggie starter mix.
Ground turkey and veggie starter mix. | Source
Adding pasta sauce.
Adding pasta sauce. | Source
Adding tomato paste,
Adding tomato paste, | Source
Added spices.
Added spices. | Source
Completed sauce.
Completed sauce. | Source
Source
Enjoy!!
Enjoy!! | Source

How to Brown Ground Meat

How to Cook Perfect Pasta

Cookbooks I live by!

The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor
The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor

My all-time favorite cookbook since becoming more conscious about my eating and especially since becoming a mother. This cookbook is not only beautifully done, but it is informative and engaging. It does not present a huge number of new recipes but does an excellent job of showcasing how to modify your favorites to be healthier without losing flavor or the joy of enjoying a meal you have always loved.

 

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Lani Morris

    Comments

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      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        3 months ago from UK

        Great idea. I always used to sneak vegetables into dishes like this if I could.

      • lani81 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lani Morris 

        3 months ago from Seattle, WA

        Same here!! It really is more of a case of food quantity than sneaking veggies. I do not have to sneak my kids veggies but I know other parents do. I add these veggies to avoid fitting in a salad or other side because we all just want to max out on as spaghetti as possible:)

      • TurtleDog profile image

        TurtleDog 

        3 months ago

        Funny, I do basically the same thing....but for myself. I guess I'm still a kid at heart :)

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