The best way to smuggle… tomatoes

Over on the Vegie Smugglers facebook page (yes, that’s a blatant, go and ‘like’ it advert), I’ve had a request for solutions to an ongoing tomato battle.

Raw tomatoes can be tricky and I’ll tackle them later. Let’s start with cooked tomatoes, which are a little friendlier to kid’s tastebuds. A recipe that works well is The best-ever vegetarian lasagne. But really, if you think of cooked tomatoes, bolognaise is the dish that springs to mind. The classic Italian dish is SO popular, that people make fun of it. But let’s remember that it’s a cliché for a reason. A million families across Australia wouldn’t cook it every Tuesday night if it wasn’t a ‘bums on seats till the bowl is empty’ winner.

Alas, Claire on Facebook admitted to supermarket-jar-dependence. Easy to understand. But not nearly as tasty (or healthy) as home-made.

My suggestion is to get the menfolk onto it. There’s something about being king of the kitchen and brewing a big pot of meat that seems to appeal to them. Get them cooking up a double batch this weekend and freeze lovely kid-sized portions. Then you’ll have a quick and healthy meal ready to rock whenever you need it. Most households have a bolognaise recipe that they swear by – this is my husband’s fine work. There are a lot of ingredients, but please don’t be deterred, give it a try and marvel at how good bolognaise can be.

Adam's bolognaise

Me Tarzan! This my meat (with red stuff).

Adam’s bolognaise sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
500g veal mince
500g pork mince
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
½ red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
1 large zucchini, grated
1 tbsp chopped basil
¼ cup chopped parsley
400g can chopped tomatoes
700ml passata (bottled tomato puree found in the supermarket near the Italian pasta sauces)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tomato sauce
½ cup red wine (optional, but recommended)
1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
1 bay leaf
Salt & black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the veal mince and brown, breaking up lumps as you go. Remove from pan and set aside. Do the same with the pork mince using another tbsp of olive oil. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil and cook the onion gently over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and carrot and stir for 1 minute. Add the capsicum and zucchini and stir constantly for 3 minutes. Throw in the herbs for 30 seconds then add the canned tomatoes. Stir that through then add half the passata and cook until the sauce bubbles.

Add the veal mince, then the rest of the passata and the pork mince. Stir well then add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and red wine. Stir through the mushrooms, add the bay leaf and season to taste. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (simmer for up to an hour if you have time).

Serve sauce with fettuccine topped with parmesan and herbs.


KIDS ALSO LOVE IT when you serve this sauce scooped into cooked large pasta shells. No effort or fuss, they just pop them straight in – vegies and all.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Belle said,

    That is almost the same as my version, I just use Beef mince instead! The kids eat it every time & if theres a veggie that they dont like I just cut it so small that they dont even know its in there 🙂

  2. 2

    Harry said,

    May be a bit of over kill but for my boys I puree the bolognaise and chop the spaghetti with scissors (quicker than a knife). Tried on my 8 and 5yo niece and nephew last week who “don’t eat veggies much” and they scoffed the lot!
    I also add a small teaspoon of honey and a stock cube.

    • 3

      wendyblume said,

      Yep, chopping with scissors a great idea – I do that with noodle stir fries too. Serve out the kids portions then hack away at them – surprisingly satisfying.

  3. 4

    I made a double batch of this before my second baby was born. For a start I had to transfer from one pot to the big pasta pot to cook it cos there was so much, but it made enough to feed our family of 3 (now 4, but the littleone isn’t eating food yet) for 6 meals, with leftovers for lunch the next day too. Great recipe

  4. 5

    monkey&blossom said,

    I agree Nicole, great recipe! I made this as per the quantities above and we had enough for two adults and two toddlers for dinner, one adult lunch the next day and three sandwich bags of sauce for the freezer! Thank you.

  5. 6

    Pam said,

    When you say ‘serve topped with parmesan and herbs’, which herbs would you recommend? I’ve got a little herb garden now (managed to keep it alive over summer!) and would love to start adding fresh herbs to things, but don’t know what tastes good with what!

    • 7

      wendyblume said,

      Usually parsley, basil or chives are good general ones for this. Whatever you have will do! (although I don’t put anything on the kids, lest the green bits stop them drilling into the main event).

  6. 8

    Steph said,

    Loved this recipe. My picky 4 year old also loved it. Hesitant at first but he gave it a go and the plate was empty! Happy to have found your website, has helped me get my son to finally enjoy eating veggies! Thank you 😊

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