Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meatless Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Pizza!

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but my husband has started eating a Paleo diet over the past couple of weeks. His best friend is getting married in March, and the two of them have entered a slap bet. For those of you who have never heard of such a thing, it comes from the show "How I Met Your Mother," which is one of our favorite sitcoms! We have watched it so many times we can recite most of the episodes by memory! There is a running slap bet on the show between two of the characters...they had a bet over something and whoever one the bet got to slap the other one as hard as he could in the face. Of course, since it is a sitcom, it becomes much more complicated and drawn out. The slap bet between my husband and his best friend has to do with the two of them losing weight and getting in better shape for the wedding. Basically whichever one of them loses the most percentage of body weight gets to slap the other in the face as hard as he can! This resulted in my husband switching over to a Paleo diet for the time being, so he is eating no grains at this time. It has been quite an adjustment, but he is doing very well and is losing weight like crazy! 

While the hubby is doing this Paleo thing, the children and I are not, so I am trying to make things that he cannot have but loves when he is not at home. I had a small pizza dough in the freezer, so I decided to make the kids and myself some cheesy garlic bread for lunch. We make homemade pizza dough quite often. It is easy to make and always delicious. I use this recipe from Lauren's Latest, and I use half all-purpose flour and half white whole wheat flour. It is a great pizza dough recipe! I tried several different pizza sauce recipes, but I was always disappointed with the results. One time I had some leftover meatless pasta sauce in the refrigerator, and I thought I would try it as the sauce on my pizza. I am so that I did! It turns out that this was exactly the sauce I was looking for! It is also delicious as a quick pasta sauce or a sauce to go along with something like chicken or eggplant parmesan. Here is how I make it! 

First, put some olive oil in a skillet. I halve the original recipe because I find that it makes more than enough for a small batch of pasta or as a pizza sauce. If you are making it to go with pasta as a main dish or if you will be making several pizzas, by all means double my recipe. The sauce also freezes well, so you could make the full recipe and freeze what you don't use. I like to freeze this sauce in small portions to use for future pizzas. So anyway back to the olive oil...I'd say I put about 1 and 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of oil in the pan. I did not measure it, just drizzled it in. Heat this over medium-low heat. 

Then grate in 1 to 2 cloves of garlic. I used 2 cloves of garlic. We LOVE garlic, and grating it really gives an intense garlic flavor. If you prefer less of a garlic taste, you might want to just smash the garlic cloves slightly and let them cook a bit in the oil and then remove them before adding in the other ingredients. As I said before we are big garlic fans, so 2 cloves of garlic grated in is what I used. 

Next add in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Before I had kids I used more like 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, which resulted in a very spicy sauce. Since my kids eat this, and I don't want to overwhelm them with spice, I use only a pinch. 

Let this cook together for a few minutes until the garlic is golden and it smells wonderful. You don't want to have the heat too high or you will burn the garlic and red pepper, and that is not a good thing. If you've ever had burnt garlic you know what I'm talking is strong and bitter. So keep the heat around medium low. At this point you can add in a splash of chicken broth or white wine. I usually use chicken broth since I am much more likely to have that on hand, but it is delicious both ways. The exact measurement of "a splash" here would be 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons, but I have made this dish so many times I really don't measure anymore and just add in a splash. You are going to let this cook down anyway until it is almost all cooked out to intensify the flavor. 

After your broth or wine has cooked down and the pan has much less liquid in it, add in 1 (14.5 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes. You could use pretty much any tomato product that you have on hand here...diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes (I would chop them or squish them by hand before adding), tomato sauce, etc. I like crushed tomatoes and that is what the original recipe calls for. 

After you add the tomatoes, season it with salt, pepper, sugar, and a pinch of Italian seasoning. I don't measure the salt and pepper...I just add probably 1/2 teaspoon of salt and maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so of pepper. I added in about 1 teaspoon of sugar. You will taste your sauce after it is finished cooking and add any extra seasoning if needed. Mine needed more salt and more sugar. If you don't keep Italian seasoning on hand, feel free to use oregano or basil. Or you can just leave that part out...I think it gives it more of an "Italian-y" flavor...Italian-y...or maybe Italianesque...I'm getting really scientific with my terminology here, no? :-) 

Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer covered for a few minutes to let the flavors come together and that's all there is to it!

I always let my sauce simmer gently for 30 minutes or longer. I think it makes a much richer sauce. I wouldn't do that if I were in a hurry but in this case I needed to wait for my oven to preheat for the cheese sticks plus I was taking care of the kids, so I just let it simmer away for close to an hour. The sauce will get much thicker as it simmers. You don't want the heat to be too high or the sauce will burn, so check it frequently and stir it up several times. 

Like I said, this sauce has many different uses. It is my go-to meatless red sauce for pasta and pizza sauce. Today I used it to dunk my cheese sticks, and I will freeze the leftovers for future homemade pizzas. I urge you to give this one a is very simple and delicious! It never disappoints! 

Tomato Sauce for Pasta or Pizza 
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray 

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like it spicy!) 
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chicken stock or white wine (just a splash!) 
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
A pinch of Italian seasoning, or to taste (can also use basil or oregano) 

1. Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. 
2. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and red pepper and let them cook until garlic is light golden and fragrant. 
3. Add stock or wine and let cook until most of the liquid cooks out. 
4. Add in tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, sugar, and Italian seasoning. 
5. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until you are ready to eat it. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers. 

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