Recipe: Traditional Red Pizza Sauce

As I shared in my basic pizza dough recipe post, my mom wanted me to help make homemade pizza for a Super Bowl party she’s hosting, and I worked off of a recipe from Food.com to create a delicious red sauce. This sauce has a TON of ingredients, which all blend together to create a rich, flavorful sauce perfect for pizza, or even as a pasta sauce. It’s easy to pull together and the flavors deepen when you allow the sauce to simmer for a while. Now, because I had to make up a big batch (enough to cover at least four pizzas), and was editing the original recipe as I went along, the amounts listed here are measured for a larger amount and I have not done the math to edit it to work for a single pizza—I trust you can figure this out. This sauce freezes well, and can be stored for a few months, so you can easily make this recipe as is and freeze the excess for future pizzas or for other uses (pasta, dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks or fried eggplant, etc.; we still had left over after making about five or six pizzas).

Yields: Approx. 3.5 quarts
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-60 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: Blender, food processor, or immersion/stick blender

Ingredients

  • 6-8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • Approx. 2 cups onions, chopped (I used 4 small-to-medium onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Approx. 45 oz. tomato sauce (I used a 29 oz. can, and then added a 15 oz. can when I realized I needed more)
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2, 6 oz. cans tomato paste
  • 6-8 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 tsp. dried basil
  • 3-4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3-4 tsp. dried fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 whole bay leaves (remove these from sauce before pureeing)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Approx. 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Approx. 2 tsp. salt
  • Approx. 2 tsp. sugar

Directions
In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and slightly transparent. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir to combine (the paste is thick, so be sure you stir it vigorously to break it down in the sauce). Add in the remaining ingredients (the cheese, herbs, spices, sugar, and salt) and stir to combine. Briefly bring the sauce to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 30-60 minutes (I cooked it for 30 minutes; the longer you cook it, the more the flavors can blend). Remove the bay leaves from the sauce. 
To blend: If using an immersion/stick blender (this is what I did, because it’s the easiest and creates the least amount of dishes to wash), immerse the blender into the sauce in the pot and pulse to blend, stirring as you pulse, until the bigger chunks (onion, diced tomatoes, garlic) are broken up and blended into the sauce and the sauce is smooth. If using a blender or a food processor, pour as much as the sauce as possible (without overloading) into the holder on the unit and blend/pulse until smooth. Pour the smooth sauce into a clean bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining sauce until it’s all blended and smooth. Sauce can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for a few months. 
This sauce is a little sweet, a little spicy, a little tangy, and oh-so-good. Fennel and oregano are classic pizza sauce flavors, and the combination of the remaining flavorings is just right. Allowing the sauce to simmer for a while gives it a great depth of flavor, making it the perfect addition to any pizza, pasta, or other Italian-esque dish.
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