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If you’ve ever dealt with a preschooler, you may have encountered the fabled “picky eater.” Well, I have one of those in my home, but one thing that she always managed to enjoy is pizza (“Just cheese, please. No veggies!”). I’ve managed to come up with a reasonably quick and easy solution for those nights when cooking is perhaps not going to be the main event of the evening. A couple of years back, before my vegan days, I discovered this recipe for roasted eggplant spread from Ina Garten. The spread is delicious and goes well with pitas and hummus, but, alas, my kiddo wouldn’t touch it. On a whim, I added some marinara sauce (whatever I happened to have around), put it on a pre-made pizza crust and topped it with cheese. Success! Eggplants and peppers being eaten by my child! Since that discovery, I’ve started using the same method on all manner of roasted vegetables. I get a lot of mileage out this method, so here is a rough time line:

Day one: Roast whatever vegetables you please and serve ’em up as a side. I usually fill an 11 x 14 Pyrex pan to the brim with onions, squash, eggplant, peppers, cauliflower, even broccoli, and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and sometimes add fresh oregano from my garden. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes, stirring them around a few times in the process. Refrigerate left-overs.

Behold: poorly-lit, captured-by-phone-camera vegetables!

Day two: Using a food processor, puree the left-over veggies with a tablespoon of tomato paste. I add a full jar of marinara, and pulse until blended. I re-fill the pasta jar with the new, super veggie sauce and put in the fridge for later use. I’ve been using a pre-made crust (Common Ground has a great one), but if you have the skills and the time, feel free to make your own (and share your recipe!). My daughter loves to help out in the kitchen, so I let her spread on the sauce; lucky for me, she is a little heavy-handed! After that we top it with Daiya mozzarella shreds (about half of the package, but you can use as little or much as you want). Using a pre-made crust and Daiya does make this pizza pricey, but it is still cheaper and healthier than eating out. Bake per your crust’s instructions. Ta-Da!

Day 3: But wait! We still aren’t done! Within the next day or two we just cook up some pasta (the Quinoa brand gluten-free pasta that is currently on sale at Common Ground is really good!) and top with the reserved sauce. This is great topped with olives and served with a simple salad.

The spartan, but veggie-filled and picky-eater friendly, pasta

I’ve been known to go roasting crazy and freeze the sauce, which I highly recommend if your “down time” is rather sporadic.

 

*Pizza is soy free. Pasta is gluten free and soy free if you use gluten free pasta.

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