Pasta with tomato & hidden veg sauce

Pasta with tomato & hidden veg sauce

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(45 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 50 mins


Serves 4

Get your family to eat more veg with this superhealthy pasta sauce recipe which counts as 5 of your 5-a-day. The sauce is freezable too

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze sauce only
  • Healthy
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal381
  • fat3g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs79g
  • sugars22g
  • fibre8g
  • protein14g
  • salt0.35g
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  • 1 tsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 large onion, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 celery sticks, chopped



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 2 carrot, chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 1 leek, chopped



    Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct…

  • 2 pepper, deseeded and chopped



    Also known as capsicums, bell peppers, sweet peppers or by their colours, for example red and…

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 tbsp each caster sugar and balsamic vinegar
  • 300g dried pasta shapes



    Pasta is the Italian name for Italy's version of a basic foodstuff which is made in many…

  • Parmesan, shaved, and rocket, to serve (optional)



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…


  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and gently cook the onion, celery, carrots and leek until soft, about 20 mins. Add the peppers and cook for 10 mins more, then tip in the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Simmer for at least 20 mins – the longer the better.

  2. Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Meanwhile, blitz the sauce with a hand blender until smooth, season and return to the heat to keep warm while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta and toss through the sauce. Serve in bowls topped with shaved Parmesan and rocket leaves, if you like.

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Comments (51)

Claire Baker's picture

This is worth making not sure why it's got such negative reviews, it's just a nice thick toamato based pasta sauce that got some veg and a bit of texture. It's a bit on the sweet side so next time I'll go easy on the sugar and add some extra seasoning. Think it would go really well with chicken as a sauce too. Make it!

mcemmabell's picture

Yummy! Takes ages to cook, but really healthy. You can taste that it's not just regular tomato sauce, but I like the difference. It's got a thicker texture as well.'s picture

This recipe will take hours to make for an unimpressive result. Only use it to combine with less mushy food, or cook it for less time so that you have whole carrot slices.'s picture

This recipe tastes nice, but the result looks like baby food. If I where to do it again I would hide the sauce in a fajita or fry meat with it and serve it on spaghetti. If you see this sauce on a plate then you will not want to eat it, no matter how nice it tastes.

Nicola.s's picture

Did not like this recipe. Consistency was like baby food and the flavour wasn't very nice. Was quite surprised due to all the good reviews but only had a few mouthfuls and threw it away, disappointing due to the amount of time spent on it and I was very hungry.

JulesyBaby's picture

Just made this YET AGAIN - it has got to be my all-time favourite recipe. But this time, I put half a sweet potato in instead of peppers. And extra chill, plus the red lentils. Then served with grated cheese and black pepper. It was absolutely lovely.

randomnickname's picture

Just made it adding extra red beans and lemon juice instead of vinegar, very simple and delicious meal!

drhelen's picture

Fantastic recipe, loved by all the family. I've made this again and again and often freeze it in small containers for quick healthy meals for my toddler when we've been out all day. He loves it! I often add fish or chicken to his too which works well.

JulesyBaby's picture

Just made this AGAIN! It is about my favourite recipe - with 4 oz red lentils added for extra goodness. Such a tasty supper meal.

fizzh89's picture

Oohh, I like the idea of adding lentils, will make a note for next time!

Biaxident's picture

Have been making a version of this for years, with lemon juice instead of vinegar and a couple of tins of tuna at the end. Even better.

kpot111's picture

I think this recipe is a wonderful way to increase the veggie intake of kids and adult veg fearers alike, but it concerns me slightly that the BBC Good Food site is giving misleading information on vegetable portion sizes. This recipe will not provide 4 people with 5 portions of veg. According to the NHS Live well site 1 medium onion is 1 portion So you need at least 2 onions to give one portion each (presuming the onions are really large). 1 portion of celery is 3 sticks, so this would need to contain a whopping 12 sticks of celery for 4 people. 1 leek (white part) is 1 portion - so presuming you chuck out the green part (or use it in something else or bung it in this sauce - which is what I do) you either need 2 or 4 leeks. The 2 peppers are fine as half a pepper is 1 portion, and the tinned tomatoes actually exceed 1 portion per person - but that doesn't help much because only the first portion each day counts. You could live on tinned toms alone (though you wouldn't last long) but once you've exceeded 1 portion none of the others count towards 5 a day (or whatever the latest "a-day" count is). I am happy to admit that kids require smaller portion sizes so maybe that is what you meant - but I suggest you would do well to make that clear in the same place as you make the 5-a-day portion claims.

greenwitchofminster's picture

This sauce is just scrummy...I got my 2 boys to help and added some oregano. Made loads so I can freeze it.

ClaireKelly1987's picture

This is so so good! I added two medium red chillies and it gave it a lovely kick.

michelle_30's picture

Mmm yummy! made this tonight and highly recommend! Easy to make but not as quick as id of liked but well worth the wait and large portions. Great for getting in 5 day! Try it

fayfumbs's picture

A very tasty, versatile sauce. Served it over pasta and homemade turkey meatballs. I wasn't going to blend it and leave it chunky, but it was a bit too thick. Glad I did blend it as the flavour was much better

minibear's picture

I also added garlic to this, 3 cloves, I'd say it definitely needs it. It's an ok tasting sauce, a bit sweet for me, maybe next time if I make it again, I'll leave out the sugar as the carrots and peppers add enough sweetness for my taste. A bit disappointed after all the rave reviews but I guess it's a personal taste thing.

heatherrellis's picture

Wow! I have been trying to eat more healthier and find more exciting things to do with veg, this recipe appealed to me as I love pasta dishes too. Having just made a batch (easily enough for about 8-10 servings!) I cannot recommend enough. As I don't usually use peppers, I added an extra to finish off the pack and increased a few of the other veg for the same reason. I couldn't find leeks but added a parsnip and 1/3 of a courgette (zucchini). Followed timings etc but used my homemade garlic infused olive oil and three chopped up cloves as I didn't have garlic tomato and we LOVE our garlic. Three tins of basic chopped tomatoes to cover the extra veg and a splash of lemon juice.

Having just had a portion of pasta with what I thought was a portion of sauce, I am delighted to say I am overstuffed - next time, I can reduce my portion size as all the veg makes this so filling. A great recipe and nice quick meal during the week!

maltawildcat's picture

Just made this sauce for future use, used the exact ingredients as listed and have enough for at least 8 servings. Must be something to do with the vegetables we grow here in Malta. Big does not cover it. Tastes bootiful, can't wait to have pasta meal this week, think it will go great with meatballs as well. Thanks for this.

cathyjaz99's picture

What a great way to hide veg! Have a glut of marrows and my two boys are tired of eating chunks of marrow in their food! After cooking the marrow, onion and garlic, I blended them, then added this to chopped tomatoes, red pepper, chilli flakes and a diced chorizo.
They loved it and they were completely unaware of the added ingredient! Will definitely make again.


Questions (1)

helenschwittay's picture

Hi there, I'm just wondering do the nutritional values here include the pasta or is it just the sauce?

Tips (4)

tryingtodoeverything's picture

Re the negative reviews: I think you have to remember it's for children; my 4 yr old veggie fuss pot enjoyed it... To doll it up for grown-ups I would add half a cup of grated cashew nuts so you get more protein, add torn basil leaves, reduce the sugar, add a tad more balsamic, and throw in some oregano and extra garlic. Chilli flakes if you're brave, blend and it's delicious.

tsukiusagi's picture

I put in three cloves of garlic, about three tablespoons of Mixed Herbs and also a teaspoon of chilli puree and it came out amazing! Without the added bits I would imagine it would be quite bland. I also added about 50ml of water to the initial cooking of the veg to soften them more quickly in a massive pot rather than a pan.
Came out quite thick though even after blending for 10 minutes!

heatherrellis's picture

Freezes well in silicon muffin tins as individual portions. I usually use 3 tins of chopped tomatoes as I like the tomato boost, having made three batches, I have decided that cabbage is okay in small doses as an additional veg but parsnips are a must! They add to the creaminess of the sauce and just make it a good tasting sauce. My fiancé hates them but loves the sauce!

umber.alam's picture

I have made this sauce so many times I have lost count. It's a big winner from me and my husband down to my 3 kids youngest being 18 months. My tips would be to double everything and make a huge batch as it freezes very well.
I also add a lot of fresh basil just before blending and also serve it with lots of fresh basil leaves and Parmesan...I do feel the basil and Parmesan make a huge difference. I don't add chillie during cooking but always splash on some chillie sauce on my serving. Enjoy its a great recipe! Oh I almost forgot... I serve this with linguini again makes a difference so yummy!