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Try this clever twist on classic pasta sauce with my hidden veggie pasta sauce! Packed with wholesome ingredients, this sauce seamlessly blends vegetables into a flavorful concoction that even picky eaters will enjoy!
Blending veggies into meals is one of my favorite ways to up the nutritional value of my food without compromising on taste. This simple hidden veggie pasta sauce is so easy to make and tastes better than any store-bought marinara sauce, in my opinion. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any veggies that are on the brink of going bad.
It’s also great for batch cooking and meal prep! Make it at the beginning of the week and enjoy hidden vegetable sauce all week long. It also freezes beautifully!
Ingredients and substitutions
This healthy pasta sauce only requires simple ingredients. It’s also easily customizable—add extra veggies, greens, and seasonings to your heart’s desire!
- Yellow Onion: Opt for a medium-sized yellow onion, for a sweet and mellow flavor once cooked. For an even milder taste, you can use white onions or try sweet onions.
- Carrots: Carrots are naturally sweet and add a great flavor to the sauce.
- Celery: Mostly water—celery is easy to blend into this veggie sauce undetected.
- Red Bell Pepper: Red peppers are best to help keep the sauce a lovely red hue. Feel free to use any color bell pepper; just note that it may change the final color, which could alert fussy eaters to the hidden vegetables.
- Zucchini: Use either one large zucchini or two small ones, roughly chopped, to incorporate a hidden layer of veggies. Yellow squash is also a great option.
- Crushed Tomatoes: This is the foundation of the sauce. Tomato sauce also works well, but it usually has seasonings already added so you’ll need to adjust the seasonings.
- Tomato Paste: Tomato paste adds depth and intensifies the tomato flavor, helping to mask the different vegetables in the sauce.
- Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth: Low-sodium vegetable broth or vegetable stock will work.
- Seasonings: I used dried basil, dried oregano, and garlic powder to replicate marinara sauce. You could simplify it and use Italian seasoning, which is a blend of herbs. You can also use fresh herbs, just increase the portions as needed. Fresh basil would be great in this hidden veg pasta sauce!
How to make this hidden veggie pasta sauce
Step 1: In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion until it turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, and zucchini, sautéing for an additional 5-7 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
Step 3: Combine crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste in the saucepan, stirring well.
Step 4: Season the sauce with dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are fully softened.
Step 5: Once done, carefully blend the sauce until smooth using an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches if needed. Return the blended sauce to the saucepan, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve the hidden veggie tomato sauce over your preferred pasta and enjoy!
- Like it creamy? Add a splash of coconut cream or milk to the blended sauce. I like creamy pasta sauces, so I’ll add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of coconut milk for an extra creamy sauce.
- Make it meaty. I like making a meat sauce with this tofu ground beef to keep it vegetarian. You can also use lentils as a ground meat substitute.
- Don’t have fresh vegetables? Use frozen! You can easily make a hidden veg sauce with frozen veggies if that’s all you have on hand. Just make sure they’re heated through before blending.
Use with your favorite pasta dishes. Anytime a recipe calls for marinara or pasta sauce, you can use this recipe in equivalent amounts. I love it with my baked vegan pasta recipe, or as a dipping sauce for pasta chips and polenta fries.
Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This recipe makes a large batch so feel free to freeze any remaining sauce you don’t use. Transfer to freezer bags or containers with room for expansion and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
If eating vegetables is good for you then this hidden veggie pasta sauce is undoubtedly good for you! What can diminish the benefits of pasta sauce is when a lot of sugar and sodium is added. Luckily, when making your own homemade sauce, you can control what goes into it and adjust to suit your needs.
Almost any vegetable can be added to pasta. Veggies that go great include, but are not limited to: tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, corn, eggplant, bell peppers, and leafy greens.
There are a couple of easy ways to add vegetables to pasta sauce. You can chop or dice veggies, saute them to soften, then add to the sauce while heating. You can also blend them up after sauteing and mix them in with the sauce.
Yes! I allowed it to cool to room temperature, then transferred it to a freezer-safe bag. When you want to use it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until heated through.
Hidden Veggie Pasta Sauce
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1 large zucchini or two small ones roughly chopped
- 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.1 yellow onion
- Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, and zucchini to the pan. Saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften.2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 red bell pepper, 1 large zucchini
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- Season the sauce with the dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Allow the sauce to simmer for and the veggies to soften further for about 15-20 minutes.
- Once the veggies have softened fully, carefully transfer the sauce to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until it’s smooth and the veggies are hidden. If using a regular upright blender, you may need to blend in batches.
- Return the blended sauce to the saucepan and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
Like it creamy? Add a splash of coconut cream or milk to blended sauce.
Prefer a thinner sauce? Dilute with a little veggie broth until you reach your desired consistency.