I have yet to master homemade pizza dough (sadly, I still buy Boboli for a quick, easy solution), but a few years ago I discovered a pizza sauce that far surpasses anything you can buy at the market. It mixes up in a jiff and tastes rich and tomato-ey with a touch of sweetness from the sugar and a touch of freshness from the basil. Plus, it’s far less expensive than the pizza sauce from the jar–an added plus : )
Since a can of diced tomatoes is used for this, the sauce is on the chunkier side. If you want it less chunky, use scissors to cut it into smaller pieces, which you can do while the tomatoes are still in the can. Or you can blend it in the food processor to a consistency you like. Surprisingly, the scissors trick works very well.
This makes more than we need for one pizza, so I always freeze half. Speaking of freezing, don’t you hate opening a can of tomato paste when you only need one tablespoon or some other small amount? Did you know you can scoop the remaining paste into ice cube trays, freeze, and then package in a Ziploc bag and use as needed? That’s what I did with this recent batch of pizza sauce. I don’t even know if I used the 6-ounce can required because I only had 4 cubes left, which are about a tablespoon each. And microwaving it for a minute defrosted it plenty.
And here’s another thought on freezing. Basil grows plentifully in the summer if you have an herb garden, but buying it at the market just to make this sauce can get pricey. I saw somewhere that basil can be chopped up and stuffed into ice cube trays, then filled with a bit of water. Once frozen, store the cubes in Ziploc bags and use as needed. I haven’t tried that yet, but the thought of not having to throw away unused-basil-gone-bad sure appeals to me. And since this sauce uses water, you can use the frozen basil-water mixture and not waste any basil! Yay!
Finally, since I used the sauce to make hubby’s favorite pizza–Pepperoni Loaded with Cheese–I thought I’d share pics of how I put it together. Nothing fancy here, but the addition of sliced tomatoes and mushroom enhance the overall concoction and hubby just loves it when I make this for him, although I much prefer Mexican Pizza to this one.
After a thick slathering of pizza sauce, arrange sliced tomatoes. I slice them on the thinner side and usually place even more than this, but we only had one tomato left. Oh, here’s a step I forgot: sprinkle semolina flour or corn meal beneath the dough so it will slide off more easily onto your pizza stone–if you are using one.
Spread some mushrooms around. I prefer freshly sliced mushrooms, but we were out. Luckily, we keep cans of mushrooms in the pantry for emergencies like this.
Hubby loves 2-3 times as many pepperoni as you see here. This time I gave him two layers of pepperoni, so I didn’t overlap them and crowd them like I usually do. What you see here is layer #1.
Sprinkle on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much mozzarella cheese (the grater on the food processor is a timesaver!). I then grated a bit of Asiago cheese just because we had some in the fridge. Hubby actually likes even more cheese than this and even this was too much for my taste, but I went for a compromise.
Layer #2 of pepperoni.
And now here is one of the most important parts of pizza making: the use of the pizza stone. You heat this up in a 450-500 degree oven for 30 minutes. When you place the pizza on it, the bottom bakes up crispy while the inside remains chewy. Yummy yum yum. And amazingly, the pizza cooks up in about 10 minutes, whether you use homemade pizza dough or the store-bought pre-cooked ones. As you can see, this is a well-used stone. Since you never wash it with soap and scrub it, it begins to look like this yet is still perfectly good. By the way, I bought mine at Ralphs for $15 whereas they usually sell at fancypants places for $50 and up. I got mine a year or so ago but I’ve still spotted them at Ralphs. Bargain–gotta love it! And it works just fine, although I must admit I haven’t tried the pricey ones so I can’t offer a comparison.
Here’s a step I forgot to do in the beginning. Before rolling out your dough or placing a pre-made dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle either semolina flour or corn meal beneath the pizza dough. This will keep it from sticking to your pan for the transfer process. Or, you can also place everything on a sheet of parchment paper and place parchment paper and all directly onto the stone (I’ve done that before, especially when using homemade pizza dough that needs to be rolled out).
After 10-12 minutes of baking, you will have a crispy, ooey-gooey-cheesey pizza with hidden goodies underneath all that cheese. And a happy hubby–at least in my case : )
New York-Style Pizza Sauce
- 7 tbsp. water
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.
Yield: 2 2/3 cups (I have enough sauce to make two 14-inch pizzas)
Note: Freezes well in a Ziploc bag, but eliminate as much air as possible.
SOURCE: Cooking Light magazine, July 2009