Like I said in this week’s boot camp step, I used to have the world’s most complicated pizza sauce recipe. And, no doubt, it tasted delicious, but man. When I get it in my mind that I want pizza, I’m not trying to stew a sauce for two hours in order to wait for all that reducing. I’m just… I’m not.
And though my sauce uses a lot of herbs and spices, and is actually quite tasty, it can easily take forever.
Forever is fine, when you’ve got time. But when you don’t have time, having as many diverse options as possible is a must. For beginners, it could be the only thing saving you from ordering a pizza… and nobody’s here for all that.
Luckily for both you and I, I happened to spot this month’s edition of Saveur, in which there was an almost-8-page-spread all about pizza making in Italy. Never mind all that – there was a raw tomato sauce recipe! No reducing, no cooking, stored raw! I mean, sure, it’ll cook when it’s on the dough and in the oven baking, but still! Limited steps! I might just have to tootsie roll in celebration!
You start with tomatoes. Though the recipe in the mag called for a special kind of canned whole San Marzano tomatoes (the mag did specify that the San Marzano brand, Muir Glen’s whole peeled tomatoes, and Cento would do), I neither have access to those nor am I a big fan of canned tomatoes. Since Saveur’s recipe called for that particular kind because of preserved color and bright taste, and vine-ripened tomatoes are usually among the closest to that with a “natural pizza sauce flavor” to me, I grabbed 2lbs worth – about 5 tomatoes – of those.
Next, I quartered those tomatoes, like so…
…and I removed the insides, like so. Stash them away for something else, eat them, whatever you choose. YOLO. (I’ve gotta stop saying that. Seriously.)
Toss them in a blender, and turn it into a thick, chunky-looking sauce.
It is only from here, that you would add salt. Measure out a full tablespoon of it, pour it into a little side bowl, and add it to your sauce in 1/2 teaspoon increments while blending, stopping to taste it as you go along and determine just how much you want and are willing to handle. The salt really brings out the flavor in the tomatoes, which is why the simplicity of the recipe means you’ve got to get the most flavorful tomatoes you possibly can.
The recipe in Saveur called for a lot more salt – and, as recent developments show, that might very well be okay – but as someone who often doesn’t need a ton in order to taste the flavors, I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that people need varying levels. If the thought of using a full tablespoon of salt in the entire batch concerns you, I’d leave you with two notes: 1) this is easily enough sauce for 6-8 pizzas, and 2) it makes over 2 full 16oz jars of sauce. I mean… there’s a lot of sauce going on, here.
This, literally… is it. It’s that simple.
To store this sauce, I simply stashed it into some jars I had leftover, and threw them in the fridge. I didn’t cook the sauce or heat the jars first – standard canning procedure – I merely used the jars for simple fridge storage. Could you can this sauce with standard canning practice? According to one of my favorite canning and jarring books, not quite. You’d need to ensure proper acidity and, if you can’t, you’d need to add a quarter-teaspoon of fresh lemon juice in every 16oz jar you were using (if you’re using bottled lemon juice, you’ll need to double that to a half-teaspoon.)
This sauce is super-simple. And, while you could add more herbs and spices to it, you also could just add those things as toppings to your pizza. The general thinking on fresh herbs is that you don’t want to cook them for too long, otherwise you could potentially cook the “fresh” out of ’em, so I’d encourage exploring with raw herbs, too. Saving and storing this simple sauce as a base, however, means that you have a starter for not only pizza sauce, but pasta sauces, as well.
I suppose we need to start talking dough next, huh?