Looking for a way to sneak some more veggies into your meals? This Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce is chock full of vegetables and other wholesome ingredients, and is a great recipe for kids and adults alike!
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Growing up with a 100% Italian mom, I am well acquainted with homemade pasta sauce, or “gravy” as my family calls it.
Just a few weeks ago, my mom made a huge pot of gravy and meatballs for our family trip to the Jersey Shore. I couldn’t wait to dip a crunchy piece of bread into the simmering pot of her gravy, and when that time finally came, it didn’t disappoint!
So it’s about time I shared a gravy-inspired recipe on the blog, don’t ya think?!
But it’s important to note that this Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce is not a classic Italian gravy. You didn’t think I’d just give away my family’s age-old recipe, did you? ;-)…
Instead, I made you a chunky vegetable sauce recipe that combines classic Italian bolognese ingredients with more veggies than usual. It’s complete with lean ground beef and crushed San Marzano tomatoes.
And it has cozy fall and winter dinners written ALL over it. Trust me, you’re going to want to bookmark this freezer-friendly recipe for later!
How to Make Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
- Brown a pound of lean ground beef in a pot over medium heat.
- Roughly chop a few carrots and celery stalks, a bell pepper, an onion, and 1/4 of a bunch of fresh parsley. Add to a food processor or high-powered blender and pulse until you get a veggie “mush.”
- Add the veggies to the pot with the ground beef, along with minced garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Cook until most of the moisture from the veggies is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add a can of crushed and peeled tomatoes to the pot. Gently crush the tomatoes with your spoon and stir to incorporate them.
- Let the sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Enjoy over ALL the pasta!
Can you freeze this sauce?
You sure can. In fact, I only ate a little bit of the sauce that I made since we had other meals planned for the week. I froze the rest.
I recommend storing it in an airtight container or Stasher bag. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating over the stove. If you’re only cooking for one or two, you may want to divide the sauce into a few containers before freezing.
What about adding more veggies?
I encourage it! You can swap out any of the veggies in the recipe for others, or just add more on top of what’s already there. Some options include zucchini, summer squash, and other types of peppers.
Ways to Use Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce
This sauce + pasta = heaven!! But there are other ways you can enjoy it too, like:
- Over veggie “noodles” like spiralized zucchini, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or carrots
- On top of nachos
- Strained and stuffed into a bun as a mock Sloppy Joe
- Over a baked potato
- In a lasagna
And if you’re in the mood for other sauces and pasta dishes, be sure to check out my Mushroom and Lentil Ragu, Canned San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce, One Pot Pumpkin Tomato Pasta, and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce.
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Hidden Veg Pasta Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef - lean
- 3 carrots - washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks - washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped
- 1 bell pepper - trimmed, deseeded, and roughly chopped
- 1 yellow onion - peeled, trimmed, and roughly chopped
- 1/4 bunch fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic - pressed or minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 25 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until brown, about 3-5 minutes. Use a spoon to break up any large pieces while it's cooking.
- In the meantime, add the roughly chopped carrots, celery, pepper, onion, and parsley to a food processor or blender. Pulse until you get a veggie mush.
- Add the veggies to the beef and cook until most of the moisture is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the can of tomatoes with their juices.
- Use your spoon to gently break up the tomatoes and incorporate them into the sauce. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Enjoy warm over pasta or veggie noodles.
Enjoy this meal!