Child Friendly All Purpose Pasta Sauce!

I absolutely love to cook and there is always a great sense of achievement and pride when that cooking is complemented by others. They are some that I always want to impress with my culinary skills, more than others, and that's my children. I find it so fulfilling when what I cook is actually eaten and enjoyed by my them. As many parents understand there is nothing more frustrating than spending the morning preparing and cooking a meal with it only to be left untouched on a plate. Children are naturally fussy eaters as their palates are only developing, for different flavours, therefore the sooner you can introduce a varied, balanced diet to your child the more likely they are to try out new dishes as they are growing older. 
I always find that our house runs a little smoother when everyone has eaten well for the day, therefore I generally cook foods for my children that I know they will eat. Each of them would gladly choose a pasta or rice dish over a more traditional Irish dinner. I must admit that I dread a battle at the dinner table, so if the boys are requesting a tomato sauce with their pasta I would give into their order, but I always sneak in a few extra vegetables to get the most possible nutrients without affecting the flavour they are use to. Once the sauce is blended, or liquidised, these added ingredients won't even be noticed by the suspicious child.
This recipe for a creamy pasta sauce works perfectly as a vegetarian option. However, if  you or your children are meat eaters you can then decide which meat to add to this versatile sauce. Sometimes I add some strips of pan fried chicken, prawns or chorizo. The children also love to add some cooked sausages.  Before serving I generally grate a little Parmesan or cheddar over the sauce and give it a stir. The cheese won't necessarily be noticed by the children but the added protein is always a bonus to the already nutritious dish.

All Purpose Pasta Sauce

25g Butter

drizzle of rapeseed or olive oil
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely diced
1 leak(white part only), thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp caster sugar

2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 pinch dried red chilli flakes

2 tsp fresh basil, roughly torn
150ml cream
500g pasta
50g Parmesan, grated

1. Melt the butter with the drizzle of oil in a large saucepan, and add the  garlic, onion, leek and red pepper. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the sugar.
2. Cook on a medium heat,for about five minutes until the vegetables have just begun to soften. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further five minutes.
3. Add the chilli flakes, cream and basil to the pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the mixture has reduced a little, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, as necessary. Blend the sauce together using a hand blender.
4. Cook the pasta according to the pack's instructions. Drain and toss with the sauce. At this stage you can add some cooked chicken, chorizo or sausages.
5. Transfer the pasta to a large heated serving bowl and scatter with the grated Parmesan cheese.

This article was published in The Westmeath Independent on 16th Feb 2011.


Brownieville Girl said...

It looks just as nice as it sounds ... not surprised your kids love this one!