Life with a 3 year old is a challenge – sometimes even I resort to hiding vegetables to get them into my son’s diet. Even with his love of eating things from the garden, he is still a pre-schooler whose food whims change weekly. These days cucumbers are a favorite, but carrots are on his “no thank you” list, so into the pasta sauce it goes. And it worked, not only did he eat his whole plate, but had another helping a little later!
I used to make a Latin American pasta sauce that included carrots, so it makes perfect sense to me to incorporate carrots into my sauce. Carrots do add extra sweetness to the sauce, so to counteract that, I added a bit of crushed red pepper as well.
This is a great dish to make in the winter using some tomato sauce I made and froze when tomatoes were plentiful in my garden. I tasted my sauce before adding the carrots, it didn’t need any additions. But taste your sauce after you thaw it, sometimes it will need additional tomato paste or herbs to give it body. For the ziti, I only use a relatively small amount of mozzarella on top, feel free to add more if that is your preference.
Hidden Carrot Baked Ziti
1 large organic carrot, shredded – about 2 cups.
3 cups basic tomato sauce
1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 lb ziti
2 cups part-skim ricotta
3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded (more is you like)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile, add the carrots and crushed red pepper to the tomato sauce and heat over low heat.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Stir the pasta, sauce and ricotta together in a 9 x 13 dish, mix thoroughly.
Top with mozzarella. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Serves 6 – 8