Recipes,  Sides

Special Sauce

The 12 year old has always been, as her grandmother would describe her, “a great grubber”.  She is brilliant and will try most foods at least once, loves exotic flavours, tastes and my cooking.  In my naivety I assumed that the 3 year old would be the same.  How wrong was I!  We’ve been gifted with a child who up until recently would only eat finger food and as anybody who has a picky eater will tell you it’s exceedingly hard to introduce a varied diet.

It clicked with me early on that he loved to dip  his food into ketchup and would tolerate the tomato sauce on a pizza.  The thing about shop bought ketchup is that it can be full of sugars and not great for teeth.  So I messed around with different combinations of vegetables in this sauce until I hit on one that he would eat.  Nowadays he will devour any food that this sauce is smothered with and it’s become a gateway to getting him to try other foods.

I use a blender or “magimix” machine to chop up the vegetables because it saves time and it means I don’t have to blend the sauce at the end to hide the vegetables. But it’s perfectly fine to roughly chop the veg at the start and then blend the sauce when it is cooked.  This recipe makes enough for 3 large family meals so I make 1 pot a week, remove a 1/3 to eat straight away over homemade meatballs and freeze 2 trays of the rest for use during the week.  It’s the perfect carrier sauce for chilli con carne, pasta arrabiata, spaghetti bolognese or pizza once you add herbs and spices and you could even eat it as a soup.

The sauce will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months or in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Ingredients (see above picture)

  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 2 medium onions (or 1 large, 1 small as in the picture)
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • A very small pinch of sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste


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


  1. Peel your carrots and onions, trim the celery at either end.
  2. Chop the root vegetables roughly OR put all root vegetables into a blender and blend until they are a fine texture.
  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. Open your 2 tins of tomatoes and pour them in. Keep one of the empty tins and fill it with water to the brim then pour over the vegetables. Do this once more so you have poured 2 tins of tomatoes and 2 tins of water into the pot.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  10. Cover and leave simmering for 90 mins, remembering to keep on stirring every 20 mins or so.
  11. 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.
  12. You can blend this sauce with a stick blender while hot or wait until it has cooled and blend using a jug blender.


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.

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