19 February 2013

Eats: quick pizza sauce

It’s no secret that Mr. P and I eat a lot of pizza. In addition to having it at seminars at work, lately I’ve been making it about once a week at home. It’s super easy, thanks to a no-knead focaccia-based crust that rises while I’m at work all day. When I get home, I stretch the dough and pop it in the oven for about fifteen minutes while I gather the toppings. Then put it all together, stick it back in the oven for a few minutes (bonus points for the broiler!), and it’s done! I barely have time to wash and tear up lettuce for a salad, it’s together so quickly.

The frequency of pizza dinners around here means that in theory I should have this pizza thing down-pat now. I even have a little “make pizza dough!” reminder post-it note that I re-use and stick on the coffee pot the night before pizza night, so that I will remember to make the dough before work. And yet... I screw up pizza nights more often than not. I forget the post-it note. I forget to brush the crust with olive oil. I forget to dust the pan with cornstarch. I forget to add entire toppings. My most recent mistake? Remembering as I’m stretching the pizza dough that I totally didn’t buy any pizza sauce at the store when grocery shopping EARLIER THAT DAY. WHAT. FAIL.

So I needed pizza sauce, and I needed it fast. Fortunately, I found a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes in our pantry (our grocery is awful about keeping crushed tomatoes in stock, so I grab a few cans when they have them). Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I set about turning that can of tomatoes into pizza sauce without any additional special ingredients, without consulting any recipe... and without any time to think, really.

Since cooking the tomatoes down is the longest part of any tomato-based sauce, I wanted to get that going quickly. I heated them in a saucepot over medium-low heat until bubbling.

Ordinarily I’d keep the lid on it to avoid splattering, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

In a separate saucepan, I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sautéed two or three tablespoons of minced garlic.

Normally, I’d do this in the same pan that I’d make the sauce in as the first step – you know how I like to minimize dishes. Or I’d just throw all this in the sauce and let it cook all together, if I have over a half hour to let it simmer. This time-crunch version, however, required a separate pan.

After the garlic had softened and just barely started to brown, I added a few teaspoons of dried minced onion and a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

I let that cook for another few minutes, then added it to the tomatoes.

Then it’s time to season! I added (approximately, because I was adding quickly without measuring) a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, half a teaspoon of marjoram, a tablespoon of dried basil, several shakes of crushed red pepper, and – this is crucial – two tablespoons of good ol’ Italian seasoning.

That last part’ll make your house smell like a pizza parlor. Mmm.

Stir it all together and let it simmer as long as you can at the lowest temp that you can. I think I went for medium-low heat for about fifteen minutes, until it had become a nice, thick sauce.

This is nice, but not ideal. Normally, I’d let it simmer over super low heat for a looonnng time to bring out flavor in the tomatoes like you would not believe. But I didn’t have that sort of time, so I only let it simmer while I stretched the crust and tried to cook an ice block of sausage.

That’s right. I also forgot to thaw the sausage that night.

Sometimes I’m amazed that I have anything together at all.

(PS I’d be forever grateful if you could please ignore how dirty my stove is. Please and thank you.)

So the can of crushed tomatoes, it saved the day! We had pizza for dinner after all, the dough didn’t go to waste, and the meal plan was left intact. But the best part? We can have pizza twice more without frantic sauce-making, as this will make enough sauce for three large pizzas.

In case you’re wondering, homemade sauce really is better than the jarred stuff. And really, this came together in under a half hour, so it seems that I don’t have a good reason for ever using the jarred stuff... except for the obvious fact that I have trouble juggling just the crust and the toppings. Adding homemade sauce as well is too much for a brain-dead weeknight dinner. But this happened on a Saturday night, not at the end of a long work day, so all’s well that ends well.

So whether you’re an overachiever who wants to make your own sauce for the heck of it, or you’re just a failure at grocery shopping (me me me!), here’s hoping you too can whip up some pizza sauce for your next homemade pizza! Enjoy!


Miranda said...

That looks so good!