Monday, February 21, 2011
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 kids 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 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 is the main component to a dinner and 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. Some meat that I like to add include some strips of pan fried chicken, prawns or chorizo. The children also love a 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
drizzle of rapeseed or olive oil
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 leak(white part only), sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp caster sugar
1 pinch dried red chilli flakes
2 tsp Basil, chopped
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 untill 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 until the mixture has reduced by half, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, as necessary. Blend the sauce together using a hand blender.
4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. 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.