{Recipe} Jem’s Broccoli and Capsicum Pasta Sauce

Today’s recipe is a simple, kid-friendly, tomato-based pasta sauce.

My children adore this sauce, including my 6 year old son who could be referred to as a ‘fussy’ eater but whom I refer to as our ‘least adventurous’ eater.  As a toddler, he enjoyed tomato-based pasta sauce but for the last few years he has disliked it. Until now.

When my husband devised this concoction, he ended up cooking it three nights in a row! The weekly meal plan was ignored in order to take advantage of our son’s admiration for this sauce.  On the third day, when our son asked if we could have pasta for dinner again that night, Mat and I looked at each other. I shrugged. He shrugged. Why not?

Parents of children who announce their dislike for a meal they haven’t even tasted will understand how much my heart sang to see him devouring a food that had previously garnered the response: I don’t like it.

I’m not claiming that the Least Adventurous Eater in your house will love this sauce. I have no idea what motivated our son to even try this sauce – was he especially hungry? On the brink of a growth spurt? Were the planets aligned?

I don’t know what it is about this particular combination of vegetables, or method of cooking, that ensures the meal appeals to him. Maybe it’s the smooth texture, or  the addition of non-dairy cheese, or the sugar and salt.

Despite how demoralising it is to hear ‘I don’t like that’ when serving a meal that I have thoughtfully cooked, this experience demonstrates that we are not wasting our time by serving new variations of unpopular foods.

The other good news for me? This is my husband’s recipe, so I am of the opinion that only he should make it. That works for me!

Quantity- Serves 5-6.

You will need:

1/3 cup dried red lentils

1  1/2 small red capsicums (bell peppers), diced

1  1/3 cups chopped broccoli

6 cloves of garlic (yes, 6!)

3/4 – 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp raw sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Italian herb mix 

1 large tin (810g) of chopped tomatoes


Add lentils to a saucepan with 2-3 cups of water.   Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat until lentils are cooked. Strain and set aside.

Add capsicum to a non-stick fry pan, on low heat (do not add oil yet):

Cook capsicum until it browns, and begins to blacken around the edges (approx. 10 minutes).  Stir occasionally.

Add the oil and chopped garlic:

Cook until the garlic is golden:

Add broccoli, stir. Cook until the broccoli is a vibrant green:

Add chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt and herbs. Stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes:

Add the cooked lentils. Stir well. Add the sauce to a food processor:

Blend on medium speed for approx. 60 seconds.

Transfer sauce to a saucepan and heat on a low heat until ready to serve:

Serve with

Mat serves this sauce with wholemeal wheat fettuccine (or wholemeal spaghetti) and a sprinkling of non-dairy cheese.*  It is usually accompanied by steamed broccoli or raw salad vegetables.

I am of the opinion that pasta comes alive with the addition of garlic (and fresh parsley) bread.

Yesterday, Mat decided to make fresh pasta.  Maybe he sought to impress readers of this blog!  He usually makes fresh pasta about 4 times a year. It is messy and time consuming. You wouldn’t decide at 5pm that you wanted fresh pasta for dinner – not if you want to feed your kids before bedtime!

But hey, he suggested it, and who was I to crush his enthusiasm? Besides, fresh pasta  is truly scrumptious. It possesses a silky, melt-in-your-mouth taste that store-bought pasta can not emulate.

Fresh Fettuccine Noodles

We use our bread maker to prepare the dough. It takes 14 minutes. This part is simple and quick. If you own a bread maker, check the accompanying recipe book for directions on how to make pasta dough.  Following is the recipe that we use in our Breville iKon.

You will need:

A pasta maker:


220ml water

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

300g/2 cups plain flour

170g/1 cup semolina


Add ingredients to the bread tin of your bread maker in the order listed above.

Set machine on pasta dough cycle (14 mins on our machine).

Remove dough from machine:

Knead the dough and work it through the pasta machine. This is the time-consuming and  messy stage; the part that kids love to get involved in.  We usually end up with flour on the benches, floors and our clothes. If you can let go of thoughts about the inevitable clean-up (and the fact that the kids disappear at that stage) this messy,  hands-on stage can be fun:

Eventually, you end up with this (only half of the batch is pictured):

Place noodles in boiling water. Cooking time is very quick, roughly 2 minutes:

This was my dinner with a sprinkling of non-dairy cheese and some raw greens:

This is how the kids amused themselves for some of the time that Mat and I were in the kitchen (him cooking, me photographing):


* Our favourite store bought non-dairy cheeses include Edam by Cheezly, and Medium Cheddar style by Sheese. We enjoy Vegusto but are unable to buy it locally.

We also enjoy homemade nut ‘cheese’. See the recipe here.

Cheesy sprinkle is kid-friendly and simple to prepare. It tastes delicious on pasta, chilli beans and nachos.

I am searching for a good recipe for  fresh pasta dough made with whole wheat flour. If you know of one, I would be eternally grateful if you shared it with me. Thanks.

Each Monday, I will feature a delicious vegan recipe – one that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too. 


About Ally
Mamma. Vegan. I blog at Made of Stars.

17 Responses to {Recipe} Jem’s Broccoli and Capsicum Pasta Sauce

  1. pennyparsnip says:

    Hats off to your husband! I know how hard it is to get kids to eat sometimes, but yours ate lentils, tomatoes, and broccoli all at once! Very impressive.

  2. susykat says:

    Wow, I am going to try this recipe! Seb can make the pasta and I will make the sauce! Looks delicious.

    • Ally says:

      Yep, I agree. Get Seb to do the pasta! That’s the time consuming part. Let me know if you make it. We had leftovers of this for dinner tonight.

  3. Tiffany says:

    I love pasta! This looks great!:)

  4. stayingsarah says:

    Oh fresh pasta something i must try! this looks like something i will make soon:) thanks for posting the recipe x

  5. Larisa says:

    yummo! Actually when Jem was at our house for dinner once he ate the roast capsicum pasta sauce I made – two big helpings – maybe he likes roasted capsicum? This looks easy and yummo. I like the idea of lentils in it too. Do you ever pressure cook the red lentils?:-)

    • Ally says:

      Hi Larisa! It’s nice to see you here:)
      Red lentils are so quick in the pressure cooker. Mat hasn’t used it yet- I think he is wary of it!
      Are you referring to the sauce recipe you gave me ages ago? I’ll have to get it off you again.
      Maybe it IS the capsicum. He usually only likes it raw. Perhaps his taste buds are evolving – he had tomato and lentil soup at my mum’s place for dinner tonight. At first, he said he didn’t want any. Then he agreed to try it- and he loved it!
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Pingback: {Recipe} Baked Pumpkin, Cherry Tomato, and Brown Lentil Tart | Made of Stars

  7. Andra Muhoberac says:

    OMG, that fresh pasta and the Mat’s sauce look divine!

    One of Larry’s and my boys is a total omnivore. He has become a very good Italian cook, thanks to his Italian partner and her family. I would never have thought he’d eat all the stuff he eats now, as he was the pickiest of picky eaters. (Of course, I wish he wouldn’t eat many of the things he does!) He, too, didn’t want tomato sauce anywhere near his food, even on a pizza. Our other son is practically 100% vegan. He was on soy formula (hard to find just soymilk) as a toddler and loved to pick little veg bits from our deck “garden” and eat them raw. He has become a great vegan cook, thanks to my enthusiasm for it, I believe. Funny how kids grow up, eh?

  8. Sophie33 says:

    MMMMMMM,… This broccoli tomato lentil sauce looks amazing! This would be great on top of quinoa too!😉 The uses are endless! x

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