I have a pretty pernickety daughter who hates the texture of all vegetables AND all fruit.
But every week, without fail, she happily eats large helpings of spinach, broccoli, chard, cabbage, kale, watercress etc – you name it and I’m telling you she eats it!
And the secret to this eighth wonder of the world?
My super cheesy pasta sauce that’s what. It’s so thick and cheesy and luxurious that my daughter doesn’t notice the seriously large helping of spinach – or whatever else – I’ve secreted away inside it, even though the sauce is bright green.
I promise you, if you’ve got a child who likes cheese and likes pasta they will like this sauce and they will eat their green veg without a murmur of protest. In fact – trust me – they’ll be asking for more!
My recipe is adapted from a 3 cheese sauce I found in an Annabel Karmelbook – she doesn’t put veg in her sauce but when I saw the recipe I thought it would be perfect for hiding green veg and actually the veg makes the sauce much nicer.
In the original recipe the 3 cheeses are gruyere, parmesan and mascarpone. The gruyere and parmesan are great but you could just as easily use cheddar or whatever hard cheese you have in the fridge.
The essential ingredient – for hiding those green veg – is the mascarpone which makes a really thick and creamy sauce that completely smothers any bitterness or texture from the veg.
I make bulk loads of the sauce and freeze it so that it’s all ready to go over the top of penne, farfelle or tagliatelle, be shoved into lasagne or stuffed into ravioli.
I used to freeze it with different green veg blended inside. Now I always keep a range of veg in the freezer which can be quickly steamed or cooked in some butter and garlic and be blended with the sauce as well as served whole for the grown ups.
The sauce is very dairy rich but my view is that as long as the milk and cheese is good quality – organic or trusted source – and kids are getting plenty of exercise, the fat will not harm.
Ingredients (for 4)
- 30g / 0.13c butter
- 30g / 0.13c flour
- 300 ml / 1.4c milk
- 90g / 0.4c grated hard cheese (whatever you’ve got is fine)
- 150g / 0.63c mascarpone cheese
- 4 good portions of lightly cooked green veg of your choice – e.g. spinach, broccoli, chard, leeks, cabbage, green peppers, kale, dark lettuce, bok Choy, watercress
- Melt the butter in a pan and when melted stir in the flour briskly for about a minute
- Add the milk gradually continuing to stir to prevent lumps
- Once the sauce has thickened, take off the heat and add the cheese
- When the cheese is fully melted into the sauce, stir in the mascarpone
- Stir the cooked veg into the sauce
- Add portions of the sauce to a blender and blend until the veg is of a size that your child will happily eat it – as the sauce will still be hot don’t put it all in the blender at once, it will go everywhere!
- Add sauce to your pasta dish of choice