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Meatless Monday - Homemade Pizza Sauce

Posted Jun 07 2010 8:48am
If you're like me, you're sometimes torn between fixing a meal that your kids will eat and like and fixing something more "adult."  I'm a big believer that not every meal should be what is typically considered kid-friendly.  How are our kids' palates supposed to expand if they don't try new, complex foods?  And yet, it's oh so nice when adult and kid-friendly collide. 

To that end, I give you this pizza sauce.  Pizza - as kid friendly as it gets.  Homemade pizza sauce - more complex than what they'll get at Pizza Hut or from a pre-packaged sauce , and yet they still love it!

I've adapted a pizza sauce recipe that originally came from a wonderful, but now gone, blog called Eating Well Anywhere.  It's a surprisingly super-simple recipe that starts with tomato paste.  The recipe calls for red wine, but if that is not a staple in your household, an old trick of mine is to replace red wine with broth and balsamic vinegar.  Just a little balsamic vinegar - try a tablespoon or two - does a decent job mimicking the complexity that red wine adds to a recipe. 

If you're looking for a good pizza sauce, give this one a try!  It makes a lot and freezes well.  I tend to make a double batch and freeze the extra in ice cube trays so that the sauce is ready to use in small portions.  One of the best things about this sauce?  I know exactly what is going into it!  No worries about HFCS (which is rampant in pre-packaged pizza sauce) or other undesirable ingredients.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 TBSP olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup broth of your choice
1 6-oz can tomato paste*
1/4 cup water
1/2 TBSP brown sugar (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
salt to taste
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped (I'm not a fan of dried basil, so I just don't go there)

Saute olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for about one minute.  Add red wine and scrape up any bits of garlic from the pan.  Add broth and tomato paste and stir until combined.  Add remaining ingredients through the salt.  Stir until combined and then cook for another couple of minutes.  Add water or broth to thin to the desired consistency.  Stir in basil at the very end.

You can leave it chunky or put the sauce in a blender (or use an immersion blender) to make the sauce smooth.  If you have picky kids, blending is probably a good idea.  My kids were a little put off (but not for long!) the first time they saw the bits of herbs in their pizza sauce.

*If you're concerned about the chemical BPA in canned tomato products, look for tomato paste in a tube.  And Muir Glen has announced that they are switching to a metal can packaging that does not contain BPA starting with the next tomato harvest. 
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