I’m Irish… what can I say. I have only dated Italian’s whose families make their own homemade “gravy” so other than dinning out or going to a boyfriend’s house it was all Ragu for me.
One of my best Italian stories is when I was planning on going home after work one night to make Paul and I a pizza from scratch for dinner. I stopped at a local Italian grocery and started chatting with the pizza chef explaining that I would like ready to go pizza dough so that I could just roll out the pre-made dough and start piling up my pizza toppings. He was more than happy to give me his fresh made dough all rolled out in cornmeal (apparently the best way to cook pizza) and as he was folding it up for me to take home he asked what sauce I was going to be using. As I pulled from my basket to show him my jar of fancy Ragu, the look of disgust spread across his face as if he wouldn’t dare sell me his beautiful pizza dough if my Ragu was to be on it. He then proceeded to insist that I take home his homemade sauce for my pizza and how could I resist, or more so disrespect, this nice Italian man. The same story went on when he asked about the cheese and I proceeded to point towards the deli counter. "That's not real cheese" he said, my pizza was worth more to him than that.
I ended up leaving, having now become good friends with this man, with full instructions on how to put together a pizza, my dough that just needed to be unroll as to not mess up his good work and all my topings freshly picked by the professional to ensure that the dinner I was making for my sweety was made with lots of spice and love.
Now I was given a lot of help my first time around but my nice little Italian man wasn't going to be around to help me forever so I needed to shape up and figure out some type of solution to my pizza sauce dilemma and then my mother gave me a great idea. She had been raving over and over again about these San Marzano tomatoes and how delicious they were, even right out of the can. She had recently used them to top over her chicken parmigiano and so I took a glance at the back of one of my Ragu bottles and thought that if I just added some fresh ingredients to the basic needs of sauce such as garlic, spices and some type of vinegar/lemon juice then I could probably make a pretty decent sauce. It worked beautifully.
I used this sauce on pizza, calzones, as a dipping sauce for stromboli or garlic knots and it was fantastic. All the flavor i needed was there and I would just change up my spices and seasonings depending on what I was using my sauce for. A quick fix in an Irish world, but the taste would even fool a native Italian.
Easy Peasy Homemade Pizza Sauce
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeno
28-oz. can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
Kosher salt or table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried (or 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh) oregano, basil, thyme, onion powder or parsley
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Whisk the tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice, and any optional ingredients together in a bowl. Add just enough water to thin the sauce so that it is easy to spread.
If you are making your sauce ahead of time, the sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to six months.