Growing up, my family always ate dinner together at the dinner table. Every single night. Whether you were eating or not, you had to be there! One of the meals I remember having most often is spaghetti because it was my mom’s favorite. Now that I’m the mom, I don’t really know if it was because it actually was her favorite or if it was just the easiest! But either way, spaghetti is one of my comfort foods because it reminds me of my mom and being able to make quick and easy recipes with a delicious jar of sauce is just about as good as it gets!
I didn’t realize it then, but eating dinner at the table is such an important routine. Eating dinner together helps establish healthy habits and is the perfect opportunity for a little family time. Kids are more likely to eat more and try different foods if they are sitting down, not distracted by the T.V or toys, and see every one else eating the same thing.
Sometimes though, dinner can be a stressful time, especially if you have picky eaters. And it can seem like no matter what you do or however long you slave in the kitchen, you can not get those kids to eat anything except macaroni and chicken nuggets. Oh mama, I hear you. My daughter makes me want to pull my hair out when it comes to food.
I wanted to share this easy recipe that might even fool your picky eaters into a nice family dinner around the table. Pasta night is still a family favorite and with the help of Ragu Pasta Sauce, I snuck some veggies into my picky eater without her even knowing! And it was so tasty! This made our traditional family dinner around the table a lot less stressful because I felt good about what I was feeding my family and they loved it. Plus, it was easy!
The new Ragu Homestyle Pasta Sauces are so rich and flavorful that they taste homemade! They have no artificial colors or flavors and no high-fructose corn syrup, which is very important to me when I consider buying foods for my family. Visit the Ragu Recipes Page for tons of easy meals using only a few ingredients. You really don’t need much to make a delicious meal with Ragu.
Before I started my recipe, I prepped my extra vegetables so they would be ready to go. Sneaking in veggies does take some extra work, but to me it’s worth it. This recipe is delicious without them, too, if you want to leave them out!
To prep my veggies I used a cheese grater to grate the carrots and chopped up 1/2 of a medium cauliflower (about 2 cups). I steamed the cauliflower until it was tender (about 5-8 minutes). Once the cauliflower was cooked, I blended it in the food processor with 1/2 cup of milk until it was about the consistency of watery mashed potatoes. Honestly, not the most appetizing to look at, but full of nutrients!
Once my veggies were prepped, I boiled the water for the pasta in a large pot and cooked the macaroni for about 6-8 minutes. While the macaroni cooks, brown the ground turkey. Add the grated carrots into the turkey as soon as you start to brown the meat so they cook. Season with salt and pepper. If there is extra water, no need to drain it. When the carrots are mixed up in the sauce you can’t really see them, but if those observant eyes notice, you can tell them it’s cheese because it certainly looks like it could be once it’s done!
Drain noodles and return to large pot. Preheat oven to 350° F.
Once the meat is browned, add in pureed cauliflower and Ragu Pasta Sauce. Mix well. Pour meat sauce over noodles and mix well. Transfer to a 9 x 11 casserole dish and top with 1/2 of the pepperoni. Sprinkle cheese and then add the remaining pepperoni on top. Bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with parsley or basil. Enjoy all those healthy vegetables masked by the taste of pizza!
- 16 oz. whole wheat macaroni noodles
- 3 medium carrots
- 1/2 medium or 2 cups cauliflower (cooked)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 23 oz. jar Homestyle Ragu Pasta Sauce
- 1/2 cup pepperoni (mini or chopped whole pepperoni)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- parsley or basil (optional)
- Cook macaroni noodles according to package in a large pot, drain.
- Grate carrots.
- Steam or boil cauliflower until tender. About 5-8 minutes.
- Puree cauliflower with 1/2 cup of milk. Add additional milk 1 Tbs at a time, if needed, to achieve thickness of watery mashed potatoes.
- Add grated carrots, ground turkey, salt, and pepper to skillet and brown. Do not drain any extra liquid.
- Add pureed cauliflower and Ragu Pasta Sauce to ground turkey. Mix well.
- Mix ground turkey sauce into noodles.
- Transfer to 9x11 baking dish.
- Top with 1/4 cup of pepperonis. Top with cheese and then remaining pepperonis.
- Bake at 350°F for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Top with parsley (optional).
This was such a hit that even my toddler gobbled it up! I continue to introduce her to new foods (sometimes it can take up to 20 times for kids to even decide to try it) but in the meantime, I will try and get as many good foods in her as possible…even if I have to trick her!
For more delicious and easy recipes to enjoy with your family around the dinner table, check out all of these awesome recipes using Ragu Pasta Sauce!