The classic marinara sauce (fresh tomatoes + onion + garlic + olive oil + salt) is definitely one of my kids’ favorite: to dress some pasta or rice or quinoa or to give extra moist to meatballs or fish croquette. The perfect base for an homemade pizza or simply spread warm on a slice of ciabatta bread.
Today I decided to enrich the basic recipe adding 9 different vegetables, yes, nine!! To avoid any picky eater suspicion, I selected the vegetables to keep a final vibrant bright dark orange/red color, the closest to the traditional marinara sauce.
Bell peppers, cauliflower, yellow zucchini, leek, onion, carrots, squash, celery and of course, tomatoes.
The final flavor is decadent, intense and deep. You can taste all the fall veggies without anyone dominating. The texture is creamy and smooth.
Also, being the final result a lovely puree, you can serve it to your baby too starting from 10 months of age!! Simply skip the salt in the procedure. You can easily add salt for older kids/adults while using the sauce as an ingredient for another recipe.
This recipe is also a good way to introduce new vegetables in your kids’ diet. If you know your kid likes one particular vegetable you might want to double its quantity in the recipe so that that particular flavor will pop up, making the sauce closer to a trusted flavor 🙂
I like to cook a big batch of marinara sauce so that I can freeze it and have it ready when needed.
As the veggies are the main and only ingredient of the recipe I like to buy mine at the farmers’ market, organic and in season. They simply taste better 🙂
You start prepping the veggies: trim the zucchini tops and chop them in small pieces. Peel the carrots and chop them in small pieces. Chop the celery in small pieces too. Slice the leek finely. Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it in small cubes. Remove the florets from a cauliflower head and cut them in small pieces too. Peel and finely slice the onion. Deseed the bell peppers and remove the white lining inside. Peel and mice the garlic. Chop the tomatoes. Optional, you can peel and deseed them, they will be easier to digest.
In a large pan add the olive oil, garlic, leek and onion. Sauté for 2 min.
Add the other ingredients: zucchini + carrots + squash + celery + bell peppers + cauliflower. Also add the fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, oregano, broth. If you are not cooking for a baby, you can also season with 1 tsp salt.
Mix well, bring to boil and than reduce to simmer and cook for 30 min up until the sauce will be nicely reduced. Let it cool down.
Either using a food processor or an immersion blender transform the sauce in a smooth and creamy puree. Your sauce is ready to be used with pasta, zucchini noodles, rice noodles, on top of a bruschetta…you decide!
- 1 yellow zucchini
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 stick leek
- 1/2 butternut squash
- 1/2 head cauliflower florets only
- 1/2 onion
- 2 bell peppers
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 cups broth, vegetable or beef
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
Chop all the veggies in small pieces.
In a pan heat the olive oil with the garlic, onion and leek. Cook for 2 min.
Add all the other veggies, the tomato sauce, spices, salt and broth. Mix
Bring to boil and than reduce to simmer. Cook for 30min up until the sauce is nicely reduced.
Let the sauce cool down completely.
Transfer the sauce in a food processor and blend up until smooth and creamy.
Use or refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.