Easy Pizza Sauce

OK, I know its easy to pick up a jar of pizza sauce at the grocery but what do you do if you find yourself ready to make a pizza but don’t have any pre-made pizza sauce? Um, you make it yourself and after the first time you make, you might never buy pizza sauce again. We’ve been making our own pizzas for a few years now have settled on a couple techniques. One is to use the pizza dough from Trader Joe’s because it’s so convenient and it taste good. The other method is to use Trader Joe’s Lavash Bread. We’ve used a lot of different sauces for the pizza but we’d never set out to make a traditional pizza sauce because we always have a jar or can of a store bought sauce. One day we realized we didn’t have any pizza sauce so we looked online for directions. There are a lot of them but we didn’t want to spend hours simmering a sauce and we didn’t want to use a lot of ingredients. When we found a selection with simple ingredients and simple cooking methods, we took the flavor profile we were looking for and came up with this easy pizza sauce recipe. We’ve used it a number of times now and it always turns out great.

Some comments on the ingredients – this is supposed to be easy and from items already in your pantry.  If you don’t have the separate containers of oregano, basil and rosemary, you can substitute with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning mix. If you don’t have garlic cloves you can substitute with other forms of garlic. Check out this conversion for using garlic powder, garlic salt, etc.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils.

Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, or until it has the thick consistency of pizza sauce.

Allow sauce to cool and spread on pizza dough and add the toppings of your choice.

 

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Grilled Artisan Pizza – Asian Shrimp & Cilantro Pizza

Spicy Shrimp Pizza on the grill
Last summer, the Austin American-Statesman (our local newspaper) ran an article on grilling pizza on your backyard grill. I’ll admit, I have never thought about this as a possibility and usually use a frozen pizza as a starting point and then add extra ingredients. For example, we’ll get something like a frozen pepperoni pizza and then add extra meat and cheese before we cook it in the oven.

The idea of cooking pizza on the grill combines two of my favorite foods so I was definitely game to try this out. First things first, I had never made pizza dough so that had to be tackled first. The article says any type of pizza dough would work but I decided to use their basic pizza dough recipe. We’ve tried multiple recipes for pizza dough but this one is easy and seems to be the one we keep coming back to.

The decision of what to put on top of your pizza seems like an unlimited array of options. We have tried many types of toppings and have found that leftover meats make a great topping. Got some leftover BBQ? Throw it on a pizza. Leftover chicken? Yep, this goes great on a pizza, especially with a pesto sauce.

One of the toppings that we keep coming back to is a Asian inspired shrimp pizza. I have found numerous recipes for similar pizzas but the inspiration for our shrimp came from The Roxx Box. I really like the apple cider vinegar in this recipe.

This recipe includes the homemade pizza dough recipe but you can also use store bought fresh or frozen dough. I just think it’s fun to make the dough from scratch.

Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of honey (or sugar)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • Cornmeal or polenta for dusting dough before grilling
  • Extra olive oil for coating the bowl to rise the dough

Combine the water, olive oil and honey in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on the water mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes, until foamy. Then stir and let sit for a couple minutes longer.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly mix in the water mixture using a half cup at a time. Continue to mix until all the water mixture is worked into the flour. If the dough is stiff add a little water. If the dough is too sticky, add some extra flour. Continue to mix the dough until it is elastic and doesn’t stick to you fingers. Then knead the dough for one minute on a floured surface. Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough.

Roll the dough into a ball and place in a large well oiled bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl so that the oil is covering the dough. Then, drizzle the dough the extra olive oil. Tightly cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. It should more than double in size.

Punch the dough and then lightly knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is smooth. Then, cut into two even sizes and create a ball of each one. You can use this immediately or wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until you’re ready to start. We just put ours in a ziplock bag and left it on the counter. The recipe we used from the newspaper also states you can freeze the balls for up to one month and then let them thaw in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use them. I can confirm this does work very well for us. A lot of times we make a double batch and freeze half of it so it’s easier to do on a work night. Because it is time consuming, this is usually a weekend meal, but using frozen dough can be done any night of the week.

The Shrimp topping recipe follows below. This is enough for one 12 inch pizza but the dough recipe is enough for two 12 inch pizzas. We usually make two pizzas and the other will usually be a basic margarita pizza of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Sometimes, we’ll add pepperoni to the margarita. I know it’s not traditional, but who cares, it’s pepperoni!

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1 pound shelled shrimp (we use the frozen small shrimp but fresh medium are best if available)
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha sauce (or any chili sauce of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp chopped, fresh cilantro, divided
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan and place on medium heat. Add the red onions and saute. Reduce the heat to low and continue to saute until the onions are dark brown. Then, stir in the sugar, vinegar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic. Stir this until the liquid evaporates and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In another saute pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium heat. Add the shrimp and saute, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste (we just add a pinch of both). Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic and continue to saute. Next, add the chili sauce and mix well. Remove the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro. Now, mix the shrimp with the onions and set aside, waiting for the dough.

At this point you need to roll out your pizza dough. We usually make 2 pizzas at once but you can divide it into 4 so you get 4 individual pizzas. Coat your work surface with grits or polenta, Place your dough ball in the middle of the surface. Start working from the center and gently stretch and pull it from center until you get a roughly 12 inch roundish shaped piece of pizza dough. It should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch think. Drizzle both sides with oil.  You need a good coating on both sides with help give a thinner and crispier crust.

Pick up the dough by two corners and, in one motion, lay it down flat on the cooking grates of a hot grill. We use medium heat on our gas grill for this. Close the lid and grill for 2 minutes, then use tongs to gently flip the dough and grill for 1 minute.

Use your tongs to transfer the crust to a baking sheet, we use the bottom side so you can slide it easier. Now, we take the pizza doughs back into the kitchen and put our toppings on them. Put the shrimp mixture on the pizza, and add the cheese, tomatoes, remaining 3 tablespoons of cilantro over the pizza.

Now we put the pizza back onto the grill. We use a gas grill and what we do is put the pizza on indirect heat by placing the pizza in the center of the grill and turning off the gas in the middle, leaving just the outside burners going on medium-high level. Cook like this until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown. Bring it in and you’re ready to serve.

Grilled Pizzas - Spicy Shrimp and Margarita