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This simple hidden veggie pasta sauce is great if you are struggling to get your child (or yourself) to eat the recommended amount of vegetables. It’s a delicious way to incorporate more colorful vegetables into your family’s meals!

Vegetable pasta sauce on a white bowl.
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Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce

As a pediatric dietitian, I am constantly reminding parents and caregivers of the utmost importance of repeated exposure, especially for fussy eaters.

Why? Because research shows that the more they see a new food, the more they become familiar and comfortable with it. And familiarity leads to acceptance!

But does hiding or sneaking in vegetables really count as exposure?

Not really if you want your child to chomp on a raw or cooked vegetable in its whole form. That’s because toddlers won’t know that their green muffins, for example, have spinach in them.

Although one thing you can do, and I highly encourage it, is to invite your child into the kitchen and have them see or help with the cooking process.

It can be as simple as encouraging them to touch the vegetable (which counts as exposure) and add it to a bowl.

So then why should you hide vegetables?

While exposure is important, it can take a very long time for some kids to open up to certain or perhaps all vegetables. And it can feel very devastating and worrisome to us parents, no?

So my advice is to continue offering the vegetables in their whole forms but at the same time, add them to various foods, like muffins, pancakes, dips, etc. so your child can get the nutrition they need. This will also help them to get accustomed to the flavors of the vegetables.

This pasta sauce is packed with vegetables and bursting with flavor. And there are so many ways to enjoy besides with pasta. Let me show you!

If you are looking for more veggie packed sauces without tomatoes, I am confident that you will find a new family favorite amongst this list.

Ingredients

All the vegetables on the left and the rest of the ingredients on the right.

I am highlighting just the ones that need further explanation. The complete list is in the recipe card below.

  • Vegetables – You really can use whatever vegetables you have on hand! I do recommend adding some type of sweeter vegetable to help mellow out the tartness from the tomatoes.  My favorites are carrots, zucchini, and red bell pepper.
  • Balsamic vinegar – helps balance out the sauce and adds a rich depth of flavor
  • Canned tomatoes – I like to use no-salt-added, especially if intending to serve to babies. I highly recommend San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Pumpkin – makes the sauce creamy while boosting nutrition. You can use store-bought or homemade pumpkin puree. If you have any leftovers, here are some delicious pumpkin recipes to help use it all up.

Step-by-Step Instructions

All the veggies chopped on a wooden board.
A four image collage showing cooking process step by step.
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and Italian seasoning and sir well. Add pumpkin, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and bring pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and transfer the sauce into a food processor or blender. You can also use an immersion blender. Puree until smooth. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add water or vegetable broth until desired consistency is reached.

Tips for Success

Chunky sauce in a blender on the left and after blended on the right.
  • Pureed veggie pasta sauce is great especially If your child struggles with texture, but I do encourage you to keep a portion of the sauce chunky (not blended). Serve just a tiny portion on the side as exposure. You just never know when your child may decide to give it a try.
  • If you want to add some protein, try adding lentils or beans. Keep in mind it will make the sauce thicker so you’ll need to add more liquid.

Related: Iron-Rich Baby Pasta Sauce

Serving Suggestions

Mini sloppy joes with broccoli and a side of the sauce.

This hidden veggie tomato sauce is super versatile! Enjoy with pasta of your choice or mix into:

You can also use this sauce in any recipes that calls for tomato sauce, such as:

Storage

Pasta sauce stored in mason jar with vegetables on the side.

Store any remaining sauce in an airtight container or jar and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

They freeze really well too. You can portion it out into freezer bags or containers.

If you want to freeze in single-serving portions for your baby or toddler, this freezer tray is really great!

Once frozen, you can pop the molded sauce out and transfer to a ziplock bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

You can also freeze cooked pasta so all you have to do is take out both the sauce and pasta from the freezer and reheat. It’s such a time saver!

Easy pasta sauce recipes

Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!

5 from 12 votes

Veggie Pasta Sauce

This simple hidden veggie pasta sauce is great if you are struggling to get your child (or yourself) to eat the recommended amount of vegetables
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 (makes about 6 cups)
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans no sodium added crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, homemade or store-bought (250g)

Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  • Add the tomato paste and Italian seasoning and sir well. Add pumpkin, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and bring pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Cool slightly and transfer the sauce into a blender. You can also use an immersion blender. Puree until smooth. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add water or vegetable broth until desired consistency is reached.

Notes

  • Store any remaining sauce in an airtight container or jar and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
  • Or freeze for up to 3 months. If you want to freeze in single-serving portions for your baby or toddler, this freezer tray is really great! Once frozen, you can pop the molded sauce out and transfer to a ziplock bag or container.

Nutrition

Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 21mg | Potassium: 168mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5246IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Min you are a wonder mom, and you help me to be one too through your recipe…
    Love all your recipe, it’s more fun doing with my kids. Thank you!

    1. Oh I’m so glad you’re enjoying making and trying my recipes with your kids! Thank YOU for being here!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for the family and everyone LOVED it when added to ground beef & cheese for sloppy joes! It was so great knowing it was packed with veggies too!