Easy Protein Pasta Sauce with Hidden Veggies (Todder Approved)

protein pasta sauce with hidden veggies main header image

This super simple protein pasta sauce with hidden veggies uses just THREE ingredients to make it packed with protein, vitamin A, potassium and fiber. As a busy mom, it’s my take on balancing convenience and nutrition – while attempting to feed the entire family without making an array of different meals. 

I decided to experiment with this recipe, not knowing if my two picky toddlers would actually eat it. However, kids love pasta – why not attempt to make it a little more nutritious? I simply added cottage cheese and sweet potatoes to a jarred pasta sauce – and guess what – my kids ate it! I even saved a little sauce and made a pizza with it. 

This recipe can be customized to meet you and your family’s preferences. It might just give you inspiration to try this with other recipes as well. 

protein pasta sauce on a pizza for an easy, convenient meal for the whole family

Reasons to Try This Recipe

  • It’s super easy – you don’t even have to make pasta sauce from scratch (but you totally could).
  • Perfect for a busy weeknight or lazy Sunday.
  • This recipe takes a toddler favorite and elevates it – so every bite is a little bit more nutritious. Ideal for kids who don’t eat many vegetables – because they won’t even taste them!
  • This is a great meal to get your kids involved with the cooking process, which can help with increased food acceptance. My kids love to add ingredients to a blender and watch it go! 

Ingredients

This recipe uses about a 1/2 jar of pasta sauce and makes about 4-5 servings. You can put the rest of the pasta sauce in the fridge and use in the next 7 days OR double this recipe and have a lot of leftovers for the week!

Freezing is also an option, but it is not usually recommended as it can change the texture of the cottage cheese. You could freeze the leftover jarred pasta sauce without the cottage cheese, though. 

Rao’s Vodka Pasta Sauce (1 cup)

This recipe uses jarred pasta sauce, because why not? Rao’s is my favorite brand of pasta sauce, and if you’re a busy mom it just makes life a bit easier. Using your own homemade pasta sauce and following the rest of these instructions works as well.

 I chose vodka sauce for this recipe – but you could essentially select any sauce you want. If you pick marinara, the end result just might look more like a vodka sauce (creamy and more orange than red). 

Cottage Cheese or Greek Yogurt (1 cup)

I used low-fat cottage cheese because I didn’t have Greek yogurt. Either works, and they both provide about 26 grams of additional protein per one cup. The higher the milkfat in the cottage cheese, the more creamy it will be – so it’s totally up to you. 

Frozen Sweet Potatoes Cubes (2 cups)

I kept it easy and used two cups of already cubed, frozen sweet potatoes (that I just microwaved for a few minutes). Frozen can be just as healthy as fresh! However, feel free to roast your own sweet potatoes as well.

Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, fiber, and vitamin A. Great substitutes for sweet potatoes include butternut squash, cauliflower, or zucchini- as they’re essentially mild in flavor and color. 

Parmesan Cheese

We love to add a little bit of parmesan cheese for even more creaminess. My kids won’t eat pasta without it!

Pasta of Your Choice

Pick whichever pasta your family loves – or let your kids decide. We love Barilla Protein+ pasta noodles for the 10 grams of protein per serving. 

Ground Italian Sausage (Optional)

I think Italian sausage would be a great addition to this pasta, however, I didn’t include it in this recipe because my 4-year-old won’t eat it! If you think your family will, incorporate some cooked ground sausage when the sauce is added.

Bowls of pasta with the hidden veggie sauce

Instructions for Protein Pasta Sauce (with hidden veggies)

Alright, so ready to make a super simple protein pasta sauce with hidden veggies? All you’ll need are the ingredients, a measuring cup, blender or Nutri-bullet, and a pot for the pasta.  

If you love this recipe, try this mac and cheese with hidden veggies or my butternut squash cottage cheese pasta sauceOr you might just see how easy it is to customize your own favorite recipes. 

1. Assemble Ingredients and Start Boiling Water

Assemble all ingredients. Get a pot of salted water boiling on the stove, while you make the sauce.

2. Microwave Sweet Potato Cubes

Measure out two cups of frozen sweet potato cubes and microwave until soft. 

3. Add Sweet Potatoes, Cottage Cheese or Yogurt, and Pasta Sauce to Blender

protein pasta sauceAdd one cup of pasta sauce, one cup of cottage cheese or yogurt, and the two cups of sweet potatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. Season with a little bit of salt, pepper and garlic powder.
A Nutri-bullet can be used, however, I recommend using the largest size you have (learn from my mistakes here).

4. Cook the Pasta

Once the water reaches boiling, add your pasta. Set a timer to check the noodles to ensure they’re al dente. 

When noodles are done, strain the water – reserving one cup of pasta water for the sauce. This helps to thicken the sauce and get it to the right consistency. 

5. Incorporate the Sauce and Finish the Dish

Add the pasta sauce to the pan and combine with the noodles on low heat. Slowly incorporate some of the pasta water and stir – it’s better to have less to start with because you can always add more. I say this because I got lazy and added a little too much but it did thicken up after sitting for a bit. 

Once you think you’ve got the right consistency, top with parmesan cheese and serve. 

Pot of the protein pasta sauce with hidden veggies

The Taste Test

I compared the jarred pasta sauce to the blended protein pasta sauce and I felt like they were very comparable. This is probably why my kids ate this pasta – but I was still SHOCKED. It just goes to show that you could probably customize any pasta sauce to make it healthier! 

Bowls of pasta with the hidden veggie sauce

Easy Protein Pasta Sauce with Hidden Veggies

Alex Evink, MS, RD
This easy protein pasta sauce with hidden veggies uses jarred pasta sauce with TWO additional ingredients to make it packed with protein, fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. The taste is mild in flavor, and both my kids ate this nutrient packed sauce. It's a balance of convenience and nutrition.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 5 servings
Calories 300 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Rao's vodka pasta sauce, or preferred jarred or homemade sauce
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes cubes, frozen
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 box of pasta, your choice (I use Barilla Protein Plus)
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, optional

Instructions
 

  • Gather all ingredients. Place a pot of salted water on medium-high heat.
    Microwave sweet potato cubes until soft.
  • Add sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, and pasta sauce to blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Strain pasta and reserve a cup of pasta water. Add sauce to the pasta and stir on low heat. Incorporate a small amount of pasta water at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Incorporate parmesan cheese and enjoy!
    Feel free to keep leftovers for a pizza.

Notes

Nutritional Information for Barilla Protein+ with Sauce Per Serving: 300 calories, 20 grams of protein
Keyword hidden veggie pasta sauce, meal ideas for kids

Other Ideas For Protein Pasta Sauce with Hidden Veggies

Just because this recipe isn’t completely “homemade” it can still be a part of a healthy diet for you and hopefully your entire family! Balancing nutrition and convenience just makes sense sometimes when you’re a busy mom. 

The sky is the limit here. What are some other foods your kids love where you can use the same principles of this dish? 

For example, incorporating roasted cauliflower and Greek yogurt to an alfredo sauce – as it likely will not change the color of the sauce. Another great idea would be making a white cheddar macaroni and cheese with added veggies and protein.

If you try this sauce with your kids, let me know – did they eat it? 

This post does include an AI generated image from Canva. 

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