I was chatting with Bruce the other day about the all wonderful and tempting pizza; bemoaning the fact that it might not be the best idea to have the ‘za’ every night after a long work day. I suggested, “Hey, at least if you make the sauce from scratch and make your own pizza, it’s not so terrible to treat yourself.” Pause. “You make your own sauce?!”
I’m a sauce lady. Load on sauce, pour that gravy, pile on that curry and dunk that bread. Different variations have kept me fed throughout my stint as a poor university student vegetarian and continue to make my life easier as an almost 30 year old with very little time to prepare home cooked dinners. My beautiful and resilient mom/friend Connie was taught this recipe from her adopted mother Audrey, who I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet as she passed away when my mother was quite young. My connection with Audrey is mostly based on the recipes and cooking tips passed down by my mother. This recipe has travelled and been altered and adjusted over time to suit taste and circumstance. I’m happy to share and spread some happiness to people like Bruce and I, who are not chefs but who would like to experiment and have some fun. Why would I go to the trouble of making my own sauce? I find the jarred stuff can be too sweet and also has a lot of hard to pronounce additives that Michael Pollan would advise you to avoid. I also find it relaxing and enjoyable. Being able to temporarily switch gears and have fun experimenting with fresh ingredients. One week I might feel like having lots of veggies like zucchini and broccoli. The next I might be craving the simpler version my mom still occasionally makes. If you’re looking for an easy way to brighten up your pasta or make your own pizza, here’s an easy recipe for Lazy Sunday Tomato Sauce.
In a large pot or large deep saucepan (no lid required) sautee a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic and a small onion with some olive oil on low heat for a couple of minutes. Next you can add the ground beef/turkey or sliced chorizo or sliced mushrooms (or skip this step and move straight to veggies). If you do add meat or mushrooms cook on medium heat until browned. Then add a chopped pepper. My mom prefers to use a green bell pepper, I like to mix it up with a hot yellow or sometimes even a jalapeno or two. After a few minutes, still cooking on medium heat (I never use a timer, not because you shouldn’t but I find it’s not necessary), if you enjoy a thicker sauce a couple of wooden spoonfuls of tomato paste will help that along. If not just add a jar of pasata di pomodoro or a can of crushed tomatoes (for those of us who do not have time to crush fresh tomatoes). Immediately add about 2 cups of water but I stress, measuring is not required. If you haven’t added your spices now is the thyme! Basil, oregano, salt and if you like it spicy add a few shakes of chili flakes. While still on medium heat, stir occasionally and cook for about ten minutes or until you get some nice bubbly action on the surface. Once I see some of those nice bubbles I turn down the heat to low and let it cook for at least 40 minutes; usually while I tidy up my little bachelor apartment or catch up on my latest TV obsession (lately it’s been the cheeky Lucifer). I check on it a few times but it does not need to be babysat, it’s perfect Lazy Sunday sauce. I live alone so a batch will be used multiple times during the next week’s dinners. Which brings me back to the almighty pizza! Craving some pizza pie and would like a healthier and easy to make alternative? Grab some whole wheat pitas, spread on some Lazy Sunday sauce and top with your fave ingredients. I like aged white cheddar/mozzarella, baby spinach and hot peppers. Throw your pizza in an oven or even toaster oven and in a few minutes you’ve got your very own personal pizza! Cheers to yummy pizza nights! Add a glass of wine and I feel like a badass lady ready to climb the challenges of the next day, and I hope you feel the same way.
for Bruce in the City
Editor Mary Ellen Monk