Monday, September 25, 2006

Recipe: How To Make Homemade Pizza Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes

Easy Cooking with Less Fuss, More Flavor

You made the pizza dough, why not make the sauce, too?

Homemade pizza is one of my favorite things to eat. (Click here for my easy pizza dough recipe.) Throughout most of the year, I make what I call Feels Like Cheating Pizza Sauce. It really is almost too easy. Of course you can't take into consideration all the hard garden labor you put into it months earlier.

First I defrost a plastic freezer container of tomatoes (usually San Marzano or Yellow Plum that have been blanched, peeled, and seeded) that I put up during the previous summer. Then I take a pair of kitchen scissors and snip the whole tomatoes into pieces before pouring the contents (minus some of the liquid) into a heavy saucepan.

I turn the burner on medium, toss in a couple of frozen pesto cubes (also put up the previous summer—you just scoop fresh pesto into ice cube trays and once frozen, transfer them to a zipper freezer bag), then head out to the garden or greenhouse for a handful of fresh oregano. This gets de-stemmed, chopped up, and stirred into the pot. Dried oregano can be used in a pinch.

Bring it all to a boil, then simmer until the desired consistency is reached (I like mine very thick). For years it was done at this point.

But then I bought a KitchenAid hand blander (one of my most useful kitchen purchases ever), and while I still adore the chunky version, I was thrilled to discover the joys of having a smoother, more easily spreadable pizza sauce.

Note Of Caution: Blending up a small amount of tomato sauce is a bit more, um, dangerous—think splashing hot tomato flying about the kitchen—than burying the hand blender in an entire pot of soup, which is probably why they call them immersion blenders.

A regular, counter top blender or a food processor would be a safer option for a less reckless and lazy person.

During tomato season, there's simply no reason to use up your stash of preserved tomatoes when you get a hankering for a homemade pizza—unless you're looking at an almost frighteningly bountiful harvest in the garden and are frantically trying to gobble up everything left over from last year.

Making my fresh pizza sauce takes a little more work than the Feels Like Cheating version, but not much. Chopping the fresh basil and garlic is required, but blanching and peeling the tomatoes is not. That is definitely not my idea of less fuss.

If you chop the tomatoes into fairly small chunks, you'll probably never notice the bits of skin buried under the toppings. And besides, the skin is probably good for you. If you happen to have some pesto handy, you could use a couple of dollops in place of the olive oil, garlic, and basil and save yourself some steps.

The nice thing about this sauce is that you can make it with any kind of tomatoes. Pink, orange, plum, salad, even little cherry tomatoes—it matters not one bit. This is also a great way to use up all of those end of the season 'seconds' hanging around the kitchen and languishing on the vines; the ones that aren't pretty enough to toss into salads or slice up for burgers.

Soft spots, cracks, wrinkles, bug bites, funny little bumps on the skin from who knows what—just cut them off and toss them in the compost bin or give them to the chickens.

A few months ago I read about a farmer who feeds his chickens marigold flowers so that the yolks of their eggs will be very orange. It might be my imagination, but—before the chickens went into non-laying mode a couple of weeks ago—their yolks did seem to be darker after a diet heavy on tomatoes.

Of course perfect tomato specimens can be used as well—and none of the ingredients have to come from your own garden. I'm sure the finished sauce would freeze just fine, though I haven't actually tried it.



Less Fuss, More Flavor Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce
Amounts are entirely a matter of taste

Some nice extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh garlic, coarsely chopped with some nice salt and allowed to sit 10 minutes if possible, so the beneficial compounds have time to mix with the air and become more available
Plenty of vine-ripened, garden fresh tomatoes (preferably heirloom & organically grown), cut into chunks
Fresh basil (at least twice as much as you think seems like the right amount—I measure fresh basil by the handful)
Fresh oregano (more than you're about to put in)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow the garlic to brown.

Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid cooks out. Cooking time will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes.

When there is still some liquid left in the pan, carefully purée the sauce using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor.

If you prefer a smoother sauce with fewer seeds, you can put your cooked sauce through a food mill instead. After lusting after one for years, I finally bought an Oxo Good Grips food mill and love it. It's great for making Homemade Vegetable Tomato Juice and makes the best homemade applesauce.

Bring the sauce back to a boil and continue simmering until desired consistency. Let cool, then spread on pizza dough.

If you're like me and never remember to make the sauce ahead of time, you can transfer it into a heat proof bowl and stick it in the freezer for a little while. Just don't spill it, because it will immediate freeze to whatever it falls on and is practically impossible to clean up.

And there you have it. Homemade pizza sauce so simple, yet so delicious, you'll wonder why you never thought to cook some up before.

Of course, if you're so inclined, you can embellish this basic recipe by adding a personal touch. Perhaps some chopped onion, diced sweet red pepper, grated carrot for sweetness, or a few dried mushrooms. (Pizza sauce is an excellent vehicle for hiding vegetables from finicky eaters.) You could even stir in some chopped fresh mushrooms after you've blended it up.

Just be sure to make enough pizza so that you end up with plenty of leftovers.

My other favorite ways to use fresh tomatoes are here:
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip (and going on factory tours)

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

Growing your own tomatoes? You might find these posts helpful:
9/4/08: How To Freeze Tomatoes the Really Easy Way (and Why I Don't Do Much Canning Anymore) (lots of great comments from other gardeners here)

© FarmgirlFare.com, the vine-ripened foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, & photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

20 comments:

  1. my folks used to go skin the 'maters by immersing in boiling water. when i started putting up my own, i went for the path of least resistance. which is this:

    * wash tomatoes, pull out the stem
    * cut them a couple of times
    * put in blender
    * run through food mill
    * gently boil until saucy
    * put in quart jar with room on top
    * freeze in big old freezer

    i think about how much time and effort it takes to do this but the flavor is SOOOO much better...

    smokeyJoe

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  2. YUMYUMYUMYUM!

    I harvested two perfect San Marzanos yesterday. Blossom end rot left me just the two. I'll try to look at it as a gift.

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  3. Funny you should post this, I made homemade pizza for the first time in years this past weekend! I cheated and started with canned tomato puree. And yes, I do feel guilty about that! Have you posted a crust recipe?

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  4. If you ever want eggs year round, I recommend Rhode Island Reds or Barred Plymouth Rocks. I wintered four chickens last year and never went completely without eggs. Of course, sometimes the eggs would freeze before I could retrieve them.

    Diane the chicken rancher slighty North of you in Missouri.

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  5. Ohhh - I'll add this to the notebook I have now (the print your own less fuss more flavor book). I made the green tomato relish this weekend and found it even better today. I've never made anything like this before! I did taste the green tomatoes before cooking. Thankfully, that is not what the relish/salsa tastes like!

    The summer in a bowl was a hit with me too. I skipped the vinegar & oil and just enjoy them in their own sauce. Mixed in a few fresh tomatoes tonight so it should extend until tomorrow.

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  6. Perfect. I'm just about ready to venture into making pizza with whole wheat pastry flour. (First another week or so on phase one, I've lost 6 pounds. Want to lose about 3-4 more which will give me a little "cheating" room.)

    This will be so great because so many times the pizza sauce you buy has added sugar.

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  7. Excellent recipes! Thank you, FG!

    And by the way--how come your chickens are in non-laying mode now? I thought that was in wintertime. Or maybe you wrote this post in wintertime and just back-linked to it. D'oh.

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  8. That looks really good. I was just diagnosed with diabetes and love spaghetti so I'm looking for a replacement. Do you grow spaghetti squash? Is it really as good (or bad) as I've heard? Do you have any recipes? Thank you. By the way I really enjoy both of your blogs. Thank you again. Mimi

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  9. have you read harold mcgee's "on food and cooking"? he says that chicken yolks are formed layer by layer, so by varying a chicken's diet (not sure of the interval) you can produce striped yolks! i can see how the marigolds/tomatoes would have an impact on the yolk color.

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  10. Brilliant recipe. A note on immersion blenders: if you want to puree a small amount, if you put it in a plastic drinking cup, you can blend away without the scary splashing that occurs out of bowls.

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  11. I like your style. I am making your tomatoe sauce. I like how you are not caught up on having precisely the right amount but cooking by feel. I think that's it. Thank you!

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  12. Man, oh man. I just made some pizza sauce from your guidelines... what can I say? It was DELICIOUS!! Both me and my partner absolutely loved it. I'm not a big fan of tomato sauces in general, but I loved, loved, loved this. The taste is really beautiful, it's sweet and the fresh herbs just makes it wonderful.

    Thank you so much for this, it was MUCH appreciated :) I'm glad I stumbled in here, when I googled for a pizza sauce recipe. I have already bookmarked it so that I can come back later and read more.

    Thank you again,
    Sofie

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  13. I like fresh tomato pizza sauce, too, and I also like fresh tomato juice. So before adding the other ingredients to the pureed tomatoes for the sauce, I remove the excess juice by straining some of it out. This cuts down on sauce cooking time, too!

    I place a cup of cooled sauce in individual sandwich baggies to freeze, then I put them in gallon freeze bags for storage.

    I also use the blemished tomatoes for pureeing. They work great!

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  14. I am going to try this today! I have tons of tomatoes, and a threat of frost. Thanks for your blog post!

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  15. Thanks for sharing this. Making pizza this week and can't wait to try this.

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  16. Made this tonight! Yum! Do you know if it can be canned?

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  17. Hi Katrina,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for taking the time to come back and let us know.

    I think it could be put up in canning jars just fine. In order to be sure the sauce is acidic enough, you'll want to put 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar into the bottom of each hot quart-sized jar (or 1 Tablespoon per each pint-sized jar). You can add a little sugar or some grated carrot to the sauce to offset the lemon juice/vinegar if desired.

    Then ladle the hot sauce into the hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps, and process in a boiling water canner - pints for 35 minutes, quarts for 40 minutes.

    You can also freeze the sauce in plastic freezer containers with snap on lids, but the consistency won't be quite as nice.

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  18. Hi Katrina,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for taking the time to come back and let us know.

    I think it could be put up in canning jars just fine. In order to be sure the sauce is acidic enough, you'll want to put 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar into the bottom of each hot quart-sized jar (or 1 Tablespoon per each pint-sized jar). You can add a little sugar or some grated carrot to sweeten the sauce and offset the lemon juice/vinegar if desired.

    Then ladle the hot sauce into the hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps, and process in a boiling water canner - pints for 35 minutes, quarts for 40 minutes.

    You can also freeze the sauce in plastic freezer containers with snap on lids, but the consistency won't be quite as nice.

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  19. I just spent a good 45 minutes Googling various things trying to find this page and here I am, wahoo!! :D I've used your method to make fresh sauce for a couple years now, but I needed to read through it again before diving into this summer's tomato crop. Last summer I made GALLONS of it and froze it. We enjoyed it all winter long on both pizza and pasta. Yumm-O! I love that there is not silly tomato peeling and seeding. And any excuse to use my immersion blender is always fun. ;) I like to throw in green peppers and some carrots too to up the flavor and nutrient density. I'll be adding a link to this on my own blog so I never again have to search. Thank you so much!! :)

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  20. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I have tons of tomatoes in my freezer from my garden and I haven't been using them in soups as much as I did previous years. This will be a great way to use them up, and free up some freezer space! Not to mention the kids just LOVE pizza. Thanks again!!!

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