Emergency Pizza Sauce

I spent several years in college working for Iriana’s Pizza, the best pizza joint in Little Rock, AR. Some might think that’s not saying much, but Little Rock actually has pretty wide variety of good, independent pizza. There was also Vino’s, U.S. Pizza, Pizza D’Action (my afterhours stomping ground), and Olde World Pizza.

OK, so first off, the new oven is awesome for pizza. Heats up real good, got the convection going on. Plus, unlike our previous unit, actually has enough room for a pizza stone. For the past several years I’ve been limited to grilling pizza, an endeavor that produced mixed results.

So anyway, I’m making pizza. I had the cheese, the dough, the pinapple and thought I had the sauce…

But I had no sauce. :(

The oven was already pre-heating so I had to think fast. Operating on the belief that pizza sauce is just a sweeter, basic tomato sauce, I threw together the following:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

That simmered for about 10 minutes. Then I spread it, still hot, on the stretched out dough, added the cheese and pineapple, and slid it into the 550 oven and onto the hot stone. Eight minutes later it was done. The result was really outstanding

Iriana’s had–sorry, has the best sauce. The sauce and the dough were the only “secret recipes” that were used, and there’s just not much to a pizza dough that would deserve or require secrecy. I remember John Iriana would, once a week or so, measure and mix together sandwich baggies with the correct combination of spices for the sauce. I’m guessing it was a blend of salt, dried basil, oregano, pepper, maybe a little sugar. When it came time to make the sauce, we workers would add the spice baggies to cans of crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh chopped garlic sauted in olive oil.

I realize just now while thinking about this that, other than the garlic, there was no cooking involved in making the sauce. As good as it turned out, maybe I shouldn’t have cooked my emergency sauce either. I guess I’ll find out next time.

Written on June 11, 2007