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Slow-cooker Bolognaise Sauce with Hidden Vegetables

by Shannon Meyerkort (follow)
Senior writer for WeekendNotes and Perth Mums Group. Founder of fundraisingmums.com.au
Recipes (16)     
This is a large recipe that makes enough bolognaise sauce to last the average family four meals. It can be frozen for up to three months, and once it has defrosted in the fridge overnight, it is simply a matter of heating it up and boiling some pasta.

An enormous pot of healthy pasta sauce

You can use almost any vegetables you like – I used mushrooms, sweet potato and zucchini – but you could also use pumpkin (grated or boiled and mashed if you want it really hidden), fresh or frozen spinach, celery, parsnip, carrot, capsicum and broccoli stalks.

You can use almost any vegetables you fancy, as long as it adds up to about one kilogram

If you have a food processor with a grater attachment – definitely use it, as it will cut the prep time to practically nothing. Obviously this won’t work with wet vegetables like onions and spinach – you will still have to chop those by hand.

My kids say they don't like mushrooms, but once you chop them small, no one can see (or taste) them

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This recipe also utilises both traditional pasta sauce and tomato soup. You can use just one or the other if you prefer. Tomato soup is a great alternative when kids get fussy about pasta sauce because it seems naturally sweeter, but despite what you may think it actually has less calories, less sugar and more tomatoes than pasta sauce.

If you use a food processor to grate your veg, they will be quite large and noticeable

Keep in mind that grated foods are usually still visible after cooking, though many kids won’t notice when the sauce is poured over spaghetti, but if you are really trying to hide your vegetables, blitz the grated veggies with the chopping blade (mushrooms can be chopped this way) so they are small enough that even the most eagle eyed child (or husband) will notice.

You can one or both of these tomato options


1 kg beef or beef/pork mince
250g button mushrooms, finely chopped
2-3 onions, finely diced
Medium sweet potato, approx. 400g, grated (or boiled and mashed)
Large zucchini, approx. 300g, grated
2 tablespoons garlic
820g tin of condensed tomato soup
750g jar of pasta sauce (or passata)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Fresh herbs to serve – parsley, basil etc

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Have all your vegetables prepared first – and with the exception of the garlic and onion, keep them in an enormous bowl. You need about 1kg of vegetables.

Turn on your slow cooker.

Heat some oil in a large frypan and add the onions, stirring until soft. Add the garlic and then the mince.

You will need to brown the mince until all the lumps are gone, but it does not need to be cooked 100% though.

Stir together the browned mince, raw vegetables and sauces

Tip the mince into the slow cooker, add the vegetables and then pour in the pasta sauce and soup. Stir until everything is combined.

Cover and cook on HIGH for three hours or LOW for six hours, stirring once or twice.

When the vegetables are tender and have begun to break down, and the sauce is thick and rich it is ready.

Mix through the Worcestershire sauce and fresh herbs.

This quantity will make approximately four litres of sauce, which can divided up and frozen into individual meals.

Enough for the whole street

The sauce can be served with spaghetti, pasta or gnocchi; it's perfect with mashed potato or warm creamy polenta; and it also tastes good on toast or in a jaffle.

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