Pasta is our magic food. Its the one thing I know that Master C will always eat (except when hes tired, then nothing works). The great thing about pasta is that it needs a sauce, and sooooooo many vegetables can be hidden in a sauce. But lets not dismiss the importance of getting it absolutely right, for our picky eaters it must be perfect. Now I know that all picky eaters are different, for some its a texture issue so sauces must be smooth, for some its a taste thing so meals must be bland, for some its just the look of the food that can put them off… and the list goes on.
For Master C, it’s all of the above, though due to my shoddy workmanship hes had no choice but to accept that all meals put together by moi look awful (as you can probably tell by the photos). What I’ve picked up on mostly though is the texture issue, and I can’t stress this enough, if this is also true in your household then THE BLENDER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND!! Love that piece of plastic, whirly loveliness, treat it well, use it every single bloody day. It hides a multitude of toddler sins (i.e. vegetables), except spinach.. spinach makes the whole lot turn green if you use a speck too much of it and I have never managed to get that right. With the taste thing, I played about with herbs for a while but he seemed much happier not having any so me and the Mr have to put up with obscenely bland food.. but at least the little guy is eating (sometimes) and that’s what matters right?
So, basically you tip a whole load of veggies into the blender, add a tin or two of chopped tomatoes and you have a pasta sauce fit for any veggie hating toddler, right? Wrong. For about a year I was doing this and Master C was rejecting my efforts until I stumbled upon an Annabel Karmel recipe that was doing exactly what I was but adding Marscapone cheese to the mix. So I tried it, and that sauce has been his favourite ever since. I tweak it according to what we have in at the time but here is the recipe:
Marscapone pasta sauce (yes, the one in the photo):
Ingredients: 1 carrot, 1 courgette, about 200g of baby button mushrooms (these don’t taste as strong as the big ones), 1 red onion (but I often use white as these are usually all I have in the cupboard), 1 clove of garlic (or a shake of the powder), pinch of basil (or a hearty shake if your child likes that sort of stuff and wont see a spec of it on the pasta and deem you as a liar and the whole meal a disgusting mess…ahem… Master C!), a tin of tomatoes or carton of passata (about 400g) and any other vegetable you have lying around.. I have been known to add in leek, celery, bell peppers, anything really as it all blends in together. and the magic ingredient, 100g marscapone (Or half a tub).
Method: Fry the onion, garlic and carrot until soft (remember these vegetables are going undercover and must not be detected!), add the mushrooms and courgette and fry some more. Throw in the basil and tomatoes/ pasatta and simmer for about 10 mins or not at all if you’re in a rush. Leave to cool for a minute and throw in the blender. Leave to blend for AAAAAGES (we need it smoother than smooth remember!). If your child is particularly particular about lumps then you can push it through sift after this and get a super fine sauce, though I don’t bother with this and Master C seems fine with it. Put back on the stove on a very low heat and add the marscapone cheese (its not too pricey and well worth the satisfaction of being able to sit back and watch your child gobble up vegetables they don’t even know are there). When it’s all melted in it will look much lighter in colour and it gives it smoother, more gentle taste.
Rub your hands together and give yourself a pat on the back. You just got your child to eat vegetables.
Oh and its extra yummy with cheese sprinkled on top (and a bit of salt for the adults)
If you are really short of money and can’t afford a mountain of vegetables this week, then another favourite in our house is simply a tin of chopped tomatoes (the cheaper the better) poured over pasta with grated cheddar cheese on top. It was one of our staples when I was a kid and it really does taste quite nice… I swear!