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Monday, April 18, 2016

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Now to the main event.

This third installment of my "Homemade Pizza" series, is intended to show off my own perfected tomato sauce.  As I've mentioned before (and frequently) you can top your pizza dough with pretty much anything under the sun.

But, for a traditional, delightfully oregano-y and zesty-savoury-sweet pizza sauce... look no further than here!

Start with a soffritto.

Saute some onion in a bit of vegetable (avocado) oil. 

After about ten minutes add some whole garlic cloves, and some freshly chopped oregano and thyme.

Toss that about on low heat for another minute or two, then take it off the heat.

When the onion is soft and translucent, and the garlic has only browned slightly, it's done.

Take it off, let it cool if you want, but put it into a food processor and blend the crap out of it.

Add about a dozen roma tomatoes, whole (seeds, skin, and even the green bits on top if you want).

Blend, blend, blend.

Add a generous spoonful or two of salt.  Sea salt is best, but if you've got a nice flavoured salt, feel free to go to town.

Myself, I have the perfect salt for pizza sauce:

Tarragon salt.

Anyway, after you blend the whole thing very well, it's good to get poured into a large saucepan.

At this point the sauce is quite runny.  Tomatoes do have a large amount of water, after all, even Romas which have some of the lowest water quotient of all the tomatoes.

So what I do is I boil it down for an hour or two.

Bring the mixture to a light blipping and bubbling, and then turn it down to low and place a splatter guard or mesh screen on top.  You don't want to preserve the water, so do not use a lid.  You want the water to evaporate, after all.

But if you neglect the splatter screen entirely, you better like your kitchen's new coat of tomato-red.


You'll see a marked difference in consistency after even only a half hour or so.

But... I recommend going for a full hour or longer.

This results in a very nice, thick and meaty tomato sauce.


This is my pizza suace.

It's vegan, it's loaded with great veggies and nutrition, and it's intensely flavoured.  If you like umami, you'll love this sauce.

If you're looking to impress, say you've got company coming over and for whatever reason decided to cook them homemade pizza, I'd suggest using butter instead of vegetable oil for the soffritto (and cook it for longer on a lower heat, obviously).

But, you can't go wrong with this delicious pizza sauce!

Put it on top of whatever you like, flatbread, pita, or some of the homemade pizza dough you just made!


Homemade Pizza Dough

So, most pizza pies start with the dough.

This is (usually) a bread product, so that means yeast, and a rise time.

But, this is not bread.  Pizza dough can actually be ready in a matter of about 30 or 40 minutes only.

Let's be clear here too... you can use any kind of flour you want.  Quinoa, Spelt, Rice, etc.  So you can get some pretty cool textures if you experiment.  Not to mention if you're gluten-free, you don't necessarily have to avoid pizza!

I like to use my food processor, but you don't have to.  You can do the traditional mixing of dry and wet together in a bowl and then turning it out to knead.

But I just like how easy it is to mix in the FP.  Especially for these 'wet' doughs.  I call them 'wet', but I don't know what the actual terminology is... they're stickier than a bread dough.  More water, less flour.


With any dough food processing, make sure you use your FP's plastic blade attachment (or bread hook, if you've got one).

So, pizza dough doesn't take nearly as long as most breads, and it involves a quick rise, from a warm proof.

Add a teaspoon of instant yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to 1 cup of warm water and let that 'proof' for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Combine 2 cups flour (your choice... 00 fino to all-purpose, any flour will do!) and a teaspoon of salt in the FP on slow speed.  

Once the yeast mix is ready, turn the speed on the FP up to medium-ish and slowly pour the liquid through the pour hole.

Keep processing until the entire thing starts to stick together and forms a soft ball.

Scrape the entire thing out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes only.

Form into a ball and set in a warmed, lightly oiled, bowl.

Let that rise, covered, for about 30 minutes (room temperature).  If you're refrigerating the dough to be used the next day, leave it overnight.

Now comes the stretching.

This is usually where most people (myself included) run into problems.

The thing that I have learned is that you don't have to make it perfect.  In fact, you probably will not get the perfect ristrorante style immaculately round pizza pie shape.

So rather than try and make it gorgeous, I instead focus on evenness.  As long as it is even, it should bake well and uniformly.

If you've got a wood fired oven that's great.  But most of us don't.

The pleb way of baking pizza that I invariably employ is simply a light dusting of corn meal on a thin aluminum baking sheet.

I know I should invest in a pizza stone... but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Anyway, I pick up the dough with both hands, rip it in half, and then start pressing it with my fingers, letting it hang downwards all the while so as to let gravity do most of the 'stretching' work.

Then I set them on the baking sheet, and do some last minute pulling and pinching.

Like I said... not gorgeous.

But you know what?

It works.

Now... this is the pizza dough portion of today's funtimes.

Remember that this can be made using any kind of flour you want, including many gluten-free ones.

And remember that what comes next is limitless!  You can do the traditional tomato sauce and some mozzarella cheese, but you can absolutely go crazy here.  Drizzle with some and olive oil and rub it with garlic, add a few sprigs of rosemary.  Brush with egg and salt.  Make a white sauce and go for a pizza bianca... brown some butter and sage leaves and top with gorgonzola... 

I've even seen (and had, to my utter delight) things like mango chutney or glazed honey.  Both of which's sweetness pairs nicely with some sharp fresh cheese.

Anyway... my point is that I wanted to literally leave this post like this, to show what is in all actuality, a blank canvas for your pizza imaginations.


Next, however, I will talk about my traditional, tried, and tested, Italian tomato pizza sauce.