My obsession with a simple, clean and great tasting sauce for my pizzas has nothing to do with being a purist or overly frugal. I didn’t learn the history of Neopolitan sauces until later. The frugality definitely appealed to me but wasn’t the primary reason either.
The reason I started exclusively making my own simple, better sauce in 2 minutes or less was that one day I became stuck in the local food store aisle desperately searching for a jarred or canned sauce that didn’t contain corn syrup, weird additives, or tongue-twisting chemicals that seemed better left outside the body.
What I’m learning, very slowly, is that the secret to really good pizza is to keep things as basic as possible.
Flour, water, salt, yeast = dough.
1 or 2 carefully selected items plus cheese = toppings.
Tomatoes, salt = sauce.
Here are the three simple pizza sauces I use almost exclusively for all my pies.
Simple Pizza Sauce
Always start with whole tomatoes. Most of the other types of canned tomatoes have been treated (most of the reason for those weird chemicals) to maintain their shape.
Don’t drain all the liquid from the whole canned tomatoes. Put everything in a food processor or a blender and pulse. But do it carefully! You can easily over-process the tomatoes in a puree, releasing too much liquid resulting a watery sauce.
If you have the time, the most foolproof method is to use a food mill. If you like a chunky sauce, just dumping the can of tomatoes into a big bowl and squishing by hand (great job for kids!) is totally fine. Blending will result in a smoother sauce. It’s all personal preference.
That’s really it. Add some salt to taste. That’s your sauce. This sauce works really well for summer pies with fresh produce.
Simple Herbed Pizza Sauce
If you prefer a sauce with a little more herbs and spices (maybe one for the vastly under appreciated pizza marinara), you can add olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of sea salt and a pinch of oregano.
Put everything in the blender with a quarter cup of tomatoes and blend quickly until the ingredients are combined. Add the rest of the tomatoes and blend again.
Sweeter NYC-style Pizza Sauce
If you prefer a sweeter or thicker sauce, like you’d find on a NYC pie, you can add a tablespoon or sugar to the base or with the herbs and cook until it reduces just slightly.
That’s it. Use the best whole tomatoes you can afford and keep it simple. The sauce should be a compliment and it definitely shouldn’t stress you out. Making a good pizza sauce doesn’t have to take longer than two minutes.