I love pizza but I hate tomatoes.
It’s a pizza paradox.
Yes, yes, I know there are white pizzas and green pizzas – and I do love me some pesto, don’t get me wrong – but my True Love is traditional pizza with red sauce. I like it not only as a pizza base layer upon which all other toppings rest, but also as a dipping sauce for my fully-cooked pizza.
But. The sauce must be completely smooth. COMPLETELY. SMOOTH.
If I get a single tomato seed in my teeth, the entire pizza-eating experience is RUINED.
So my pizza preference is to make my own. And I have perfected my pizza-making methods, including my pizza sauce. And now, dear internet, I share it with you. You know, if you care about smooth sauce.
For the tomato lovers out there: my husband could eat chopped up tomatoes (HORK) on his pizza and still enjoy himself, and he also enjoys my sauce.
First you get your ingredients.
My favorite pizza has mozzarella, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Sometimes I throw on some sliced onions or green peppers, if I’m feeling fancy.
So, you know, assemble whatever you like to throw on your own pizza.
Then you’ve got to make your crust.
I don’t care to make my own dough, so I buy it pre-made. My local grocery store carries a brand called Papa Sals that I really love. I’ve compared it against the pizza dough that my local Italian bakery sells, and it’s got everything I like: it makes a nice crisp crust with a good chew and a nice mild flavor. It’s very easy to knead into a pizza shape. And, most importantly, it last a LONG time. I tend to make little pizzas for lunch, using an eighth of a crust per pizza, and the dough lasts an entire week. (And what dough I have leftover, I roll up in baking-spray sprayed cling wrap and freeze.)
(Disclaimer-y deviation from the post at hand: I was in line at the grocery store once, buying my Papa Sal’s dough, when a fellow shopper asked me how long it lasted. I told her a week and the grocery store checker frowned and said, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that” as though I was suggesting the woman lick the inside of a trash can lid or something. And to be fair, I am no food scientist. And also the dough does get limp and weepy at some point. So I guess even though I have eaten week-old dough and I am still here, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing it yourself.)
Getting back to the sauce.
It’s the easiest recipe ever. Takes 10 minutes, tops.
There are four, maybe five ingredients:
- Hunt’s tomato sauce: I usually get two of the 8 oz cans because my grocery store doesn’t carry the larger size in the low-salt variety. Why low-salt? Well, I prefer it anyway, but also the seasoning for the sauce has salt in it.
- Water: I fill up each tomato sauce can about halfway with water and swirl it around. So let’s say 8 oz of water to be specific about it.
- Penzey’s pizza seasoning: This is a combo of fennel and oregano and basil and other things that combine into sweet sweet pizza goodness.
- Sugar: I put in maybe a teaspoon? I’d err on the side of less sugar. I have over-sugared my pizza sauce before and it is Not Pleasant.
- Cayenne pepper: totally optional, but if you like spice, it adds a really nice extra heat to your pizza.
Combine all these ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer. I turn it to medium and then go collect my pizza ingredients and usually by the time I’ve peeled and washed a mushroom or two, the sauce is beginning to bubble. Then turn it down and let it gently simmer for about five minutes, just long enough so that the sauce is warmed through. Seriously. That’s it.
You might want to taste test it, just to make sure you’ve got the right balance of seasonings. I find the best way to taste the sauce is to dip a slice of pepperoni in it. And then maybe another slice, just to make sure. Yum. Pepperoni. But any pizza topping should do the trick. Or I guess you could, like, use a spoon or something. To each her own.
While the sauce is simmering, I usually throw my crust into the oven — at 425 degrees — for a few minutes, just to help with the crispening process. Technical term. If I’m making a teeny just-for-me pizza, I do three minutes; if I’m doing a big for-the-whole-family pizza, I give it five minutes.
Then once your crust comes out, you slather it with the sauce you just made. Add your cheese and pepperoni and whatever else floats your pizza boat. And toss the whole thing in the oven for about twelve minutes (for a small pizza) to twenty minutes (for a big one), or until the cheese is all melty and your pepperonis are nice and crisp.
(Pro tip: I like to pre-bake my ingredients. I put sliced veggies on their own tray to dry out in a hot oven for a few minutes, which helps prevent a soggy pizza. And sometimes I’ll put the pepperoni on the raw crust when I pre-bake it for three to five minutes. That way it gets nice and crispy when I cook it for real.)
This recipe makes enough sauce for your pizza and dipping sauce and more to refrigerate. I have left mine in the fridge for… a long time. A few weeks, I’d say. But again, your results may vary and I am not recommending that you do or not do anything.
Except I do recommend that you eat pizza. Pizza is delicious.