He's Got Sauce

The raw and the cooked

Okay, here are the two tomato-based pizza sauce recipes I turn to most often.

The first is a “raw” tomato sauce that comes together in minutes. But it’s not really raw, since canned tomatoes are partially cooked already, and also because the sauce cooks on the pie anyway. Still, it’s got a bright, fresh flavor for not having been cooked much.

The second is my NYC, “cooked” pizza sauce, and my take on Kenji López-Alt’s genius idea to put Marcella Hazan’s “simple tomato sauce” recipe on pizza. Hazan simmers a can of pureed, whole peeled tomatoes with butter and an onion that has been halved lengthwise, until the sauce is reduced by about half. The onion—which gets removed and discarded in the end—and butter add amazing depth to the sauce, making it way more than the sum of its parts. As with Kenji’s, I've added the ingredients you’d normally find in a pizza sauce: dried oregano, red pepper flake, olive oil, and sugar.

I also include cured anchovies in both sauces, not enough to taste, but more than enough to add extra umami oomph. Feel free to leave them out if you want, but I think they are worth including if you don’t have vegetarians to consider. (I’ve even been known to add a pinch of MSG in those instances, to similar effect. Or even both.)

I have a really nice garlicky white pizza sauce that I’m going to share as a subscriber-only exclusive in the next few days, so sign up if you want in on that one.

—Andrew


“Raw”/Quick Tomato Sauce

Yield: enough sauce for four 12-inch pies, or two 18- x 13-inch half-sheet pan pies.

1 (28-ounce) can unsalted whole, peeled plum tomatoes, drained

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cured anchovies, rinsed if salted (optional)

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until mixture is finely and evenly chopped, 15 to 30 seconds (do not overprocess). Season with additional salt and sugar to taste. Transfer to container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 10 days.


Cooked New York Style Tomato Sauce

Yield: enough sauce for four 12-inch pies, or two 18- x 13-inch half-sheet pan pies.

1 (28-ounce) can unsalted whole, peeled plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cured anchovies, rinsed if salted (optional)

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 medium onion, peeled and halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  1. Place tomatoes and their juice in bowl of blender or food processor and pulse until mixture is coarse but uniform, 8 to 10 1-second pulses (do not overprocess). Set aside.

  2. Mash anchovies, garlic, and salt into paste in mortar and pestle or on cutting board with back of fork.

  3. Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add anchovy-garlic paste, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes (do not brown). Add tomatoes, onion halves, and sugar. Bring to simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 45 to 60 minutes.

  4. Remove onion halves and discard. Season with additional salt and sugar to taste. Allow to cool. Transfer to container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 10 days.