To start with, there are two brands of crushed or diced tomatoes that you can use as a starting point. Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Oregano and Garlic is a decent one. It has finely diced tomatoes of decent quality and taste. There isn't much sweetness so I tend to add a bit of sugar to cut the acidity. Cirio Crushed Tomatoes is a recent favorite for when I'm looking for a more Italian taste... it has a higher sugar content, so I don't add sugar when I use Cirio. The box is a bit awkward to open... be careful.
But lately, my all time favorite to use for pizza sauce (and sauce recipes) is Tuttorosso Natural Crushed Tomatoes with Basil (a six pack of 28 ounce cans on Amazon, $19) . The "crushed" is so extreme that it makes the sauce in the can thick. I will always add a half cup of water or so to thin it out a bit when making pizza sauce. The flavor that this brand gives to the sauce is amazing.
1 - 16 ounce can/box of crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of dried basil
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar (unless using Cirio brand)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of chopped/ground red pepper flakes (if you like heat)
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced (or a tablespoon of Bellino Minced Garlic)
1 small diced onion, sauteed in olive oil first
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat for 5-10 minutes, then use an immersion blender to smooth our the texture. If when using the Cirio crushed tomatoes the sauce looks a bit thick, add a bit of water (2-3 tablespoons) and blend again. When I use the Tuttorosso, there is no need for the immersion blender but I always add about 1/2 cup water. If you like a chunkier sauce, use the Del Monte diced tomatoes in your recipe but don't blend it.
For a fresher flavor, combine all the ingredients and don't heat it. Simply blend to a smooth liquid and use this directly on your pizza. Heating the sauce combines the flavors cohesively while using a cold sauce on pizza gives a brighter, fresher flavor. Try it both ways and see what you think.
I use a small ladle to spread the sauce on my pizza, just remember... don't use too much sauce. (Store any unused sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks). There are some pizzas (like a basic pizza Margherita) that are much better with a splash of sauce here and there with some of the dough showing through. And experiment: while most put the sauce on the dough first, other types of pizzas call for the cheese underneath the sauce. Your choice.
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