Dinner,  Recipes,  Vegetarian

Hidden Vegetable Pasta

My children will eat most vegetables so long as they are disguised. This sauce fools them into eating several different types of vegetables and is simple to prepare.

One of the things I struggle with the 3yo is getting him to eat vegetables.  He had quite severe reflux as a baby and I’m not convinced that he has grown out of it.  Certain textures and foods can still set him off but he needs to eat as much healthy food as possible; pieces of toast to get him through the day just doesn’t meet his nutritional needs enough.  It doesn’t bother him in the slightest to see me adding fruit and vegetables into his diet, so I get him involved from the start in making sauces and meals so that he knows what he is eating. It just needs to be cooked in a way that doesn’t make him gag!

This sauce is partially inspired by a wonderful visit to The Organic Herb Garden in the past fortnight.  Denise welcomed myself and a number of other Irish Food Bloggers to her garden and we learnt about edible flowers, how to forage for food in the wild and we all picked her brains about how to get basil to grow in Ireland.

She recommends that any forager pick up a decent reference book before they start cooking with herbs that you find in the wild.  I would second that as I very nearly started cooking with Meadowsweet recently, only to discover that those with Samters shouldn’t eat meadowsweet at all. So for me, as I do have this condition, while it’s a beautiful flower I won’t be cooking with it anytime soon unfortunately.

Isn’t this borage flower beautiful? I’m going to have to crystallise some flowers and use them to decorate a cake.  So tiny, so delicate and so perfect.

I also found these fabulous (and huge) artichokes in Denise’s garden.  They are amazing when they go to seed, with a distinctive purple head of hair.

I was very inspired by how simple Denise makes it to grow herbs in Ireland.  She had a great way of laying out her polytunnels and trays which I will be putting to use sooner than later.  I think her idea of putting a small hothouse within a polytunnel to protect delicate plants during the cold winter is genius and I know I’ll be touching base with her soon to get some seeds for the soon to be completed allotment.

The reason for revisiting my tomato recipe is this weekend past I was delighted to be asked to judge the recipe competition at the Totally Terrific Tomato Festival organised by Nicky Kyle.

There was a wide range of different types of tomatoes and she launched the “Indigo Rose” tomato in Ireland.

These tomatoes, while they look like a normal salad tomato on the inside, are coated in a dark black skin similar in colour to an aubergine.  This is due to the high anthocyanin level contained within the skin and they are bred to thrive in less sun than normal (notice how little foliage there is on the plants). They are neither genetically modified or F1 hybrid.

The festival focussed on celebrating the genetic diversity that we already had and I had great fun judging the recipes.

Before I forget, I have a winner of the Keogh’s Farm Potato Hamper.  There were 29 entries in total, I put the numbers into Random.org and the winner is entrant Number 27, who is Diabeticmum.  If you could please drop me a line with your postal address I’ll arrange for it to be sent out to you.  Congratulations and enjoy!

I will be launching a new competition very shortly so be sure to subscribe to the blog (using the email box to the right hand side of the page) to keep in touch.

This is a reworking of my original “special sauce” recipe to make the most of fresh tomatoes and basil. The hidden vegetable pasta will feed 6 adults comfortably.


  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 2 medium onions (or 1 large, 1 small as in the picture)
  • 1kg of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 fresh red pepper
  • 500ml water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • A very small pinch of sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil to serve


  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Knife & Chopping board / Blender
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Large Pot
  • Water


  1. Peel your carrots and onions, trim the celery at either end. Remove the top and core of the pepper
  2. Chop the root vegetables roughly OR put all root vegetables into a blender and blend until they are a fine texture. I would highly recommend blending them first as it saves you lots of time.
  3. In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a medium heat.
  4. Once the olive oil has heated saute the vegetables for 2 mins to warm them through.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree to the pot and stir so that it coats the vegetables.
  6. Chop the tomatoes roughly and add to the pot.
  7. Cover with 500ml of water.
  8. Add a very small pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity of the sauce.  You don’t need much as carrots have natural sugars so it’s not to sweeten the flavour of the sauce.
  9. I now add a half teaspoon each of salt & pepper but if you’re on a low sodium diet then you can omit the salt.
  10. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  11. Cover and leave simmering for 90 mins, remembering to keep on stirring every 20 mins or so.
  12. If you’re using chunky cut vegetables test them with a fork to make sure that they are cooked through before turning off the heat.  If not, cook for longer until they are.
  13. Blend this sauce with a stick blender while hot or wait until it has cooled and blend using a jug blender.

To Serve:

  1. Cook your pasta of choice to just slightly undercooked in a very large pot.
  2. A rough guideline of portion size should be 40g of pasta per adult.
  3. Pour into a colander.
  4. Return the pot to the hob and turn the ring to medium.
  5. Using a tablespoon portion 3 tablespoons of the sauce per adult into the pot.
  6. Wait until it heats through then return the pasta to the pot.
  7. Stir well until it is coated with the sauce.
  8. Tear 4 leaves of basil per adult and add to the sauce.
  9. Stir in and immediately remove from the heat and serve.
  10. If you like, grate some parmesan over the top but we eat this just the way it is.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • Edible Ireland

    I make something similar any time I think the family needs a veggie boost, but I roast all the veggies in the oven and then blend them. The kids are none the wiser! Those Indigo Rose tomatoes are stunning. I was sorry to miss the Herb Garden trip, sounds like you picked up lots of inspiration there.

    • Wholesome Ireland

      Great idea to roast the veg in the oven. The baby is on the move at the moment so I’m trying to get a much done on the hob and only use the oven when absolutely necessary as it’s underneath the counter.
      I can’t wait to grow the indigo rose myself next year, it’s going to make for some great foodblogging!

  • Kathryn

    Lovely pics from the show Caitriona and I absolutely agree about the importance of blending for getting vegetables into kids with a narrow gullet – which was how my doctor described it when my eldest had a problem forty something years ago. No stick blenders then but I was lucky and had a blender on the Kenwood.

  • diabeticmum

    Thanks so much for prize, email sent, loving all your recipes. What Im loving most is all the recipes seem to be fool proof. My youngest son and I have had great fun last week trying new recipes for school and your scones are second to none. Right now my children from 18 down to 9 think i must have got a magic recipe the scones are so nice. Thanks so much .

  • Carmel

    Hi Caitriona, I’m thinking of trying out the above recipe but want to use a slow cooker. What time period do would you recommend I cook it for? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.