I’ve had some interesting comments about my recipe for SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE.  Nailing this sauce couldn’t be easier.  Read on.

Have you tried Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce? I love her sauce! It’s my go-to sauce because it only needs 3 ingredients! I did a post on it, please check it out and let me know what you think! I’m new to this blogging thing and I love checking out foodie blogs!

Glenys Morgan

Once the fundamental choice of ingredients has been established, the magic is truly the twenty minute rule. It’s also not to be confused with long-cooked red sauce, rarely seen in Italy but certainly popular in NYC! When I lived in (Northern) Italy, this sauce received a dollop of sweet butter in each bowl, and Marcella Hazan does makes a fresh sauce with butter, fresh and luscious in flavour.

Erika K

Hi – thank you for these helpful post. I didn’t realize there were that many angles to a sauce and ways to correct problems.

One thing I’ve had trouble with is tomato pasta sauce. I’ve not had much luck making recipes turn out quite right. I have tried adding salt, adding sugar, made sure it had plenty of time to simmer the flavors togherth, but something still doesn’t seem right. What are the more common problems with making tomato sauces have a balanced flavor?

I’d love to finally nail a sauce like this, so I look forward to seeing your answer.

Erika K

It is a classic.  You’ll find the recipe in Marcella’s Italian Kitchen.    She adds a handful of fresh basil leaves when the sauce is off the heat.  I don’t do this when making sauce for pizza or pasta.  I add it to the finished dish.  Otherwise it is the same sauce as on my blog.

The Silver Spoon cookbook – considered to be “the bible of authentic Italian cooking”, has a similar recipe.  It is cooked a little longer so sugar is added to soften the acidic taste.

The very, very best canned tomatoes are San Marzano tomatoes.  Grown in volcanic soil these tomatoes are the perfect tomatoes for lightly cooked  sauces.  They are generally double the price of peeled tomatoes but their superb flavor makes it all worth while.

Erika is doing a lot of things right with her tomato sauces.  Just remember if you cook your tomato sauce longer than 20 minutes the tomatoes become quite acidic.   That’s when you add a little sugar.   The tomato sauce I make for pizza, quick pasta dishes and risotto takes just 20 minutes to make. I call it a fresh tomato sauce even though I use canned tomatoes.


2-3  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 fat garlic cloves, minced

chopped fresh red chili pepper or hot red pepper flakes to taste

2 cups canned whole Italian tomatoes  (roughly chop these.   Whole peeled Italian tomatoes are a better quality than chopped canned tomatoes.  Hey, you can chop.)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Add the garlic and chili pepper to a generous sized  skillet  with a little  olive oil,  and stir quickly once or twice.  Saute the garlic over medium heat for just a couple of minutes.   Now add the chopped canned tomatoes and all their juices, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes and the juices have thickened, 4 to 6 minutes or 20 minutes for a really thick sauce.  Using a large skillet allows the tomato mixture to thicken quickly. This is what I do.  I freeze it in portion sized containers and it is always ready to add to risotto, pizza  or pasta.

Now that’s a good tomato sauce!!!

ALL-PURPOSE PIZZA DOUGH (with some pizza-making suggestions)


This is a simple bread dough, which you can mix by hand or in a stand mixer.   Roll out small pizzas if you have trouble making the big ones.

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (l packet)

1 cup warm water (105F to 115F)

1 tsp. honey

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts

3 cups all-purpose flour in total.  (put 2 1/2 cups in bowl and set aside 1/2 cup for kneading)

1 tsp. salt.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bread bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Add the honey and stir together.  Let sit for 3-4 minutes, or until the water is cloudy.  Then stir in the olive oil.

If you are using a stand mixer combine the flour and salt and add it to the yeast mixture all at once.  Mix together using the paddle attachment, then change to the dough hook.  Knead at low speed for 2 minutes, then turn up to medium speed and knead until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook , about 5 minutes. Hold on to the machine if it bounces around.  Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes longer.  This is when you  may add the 1/2 cup dough you’ve set aside.   Remember it’s a very slack dough that makes a grand pizza crust.  The dough should feel silky and smooth and elastic.  When you press it with your finger it should slowly spring back.

If you are kneading the dough by hand mix together the yeast, honey water and olive oil as directed in a large bowl.  Combine the flour and salt.  Fold the flour in a cup at a time using a large wooden spoon.  As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it only a lightly floured work surface and knead it for ten minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, rounded size down first, then rounded side up.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot to rise for at least 30 minutes, but I think the dough is better for a least a 1 hour rise.

You can make pizza dough ahead and let it rise in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.  Just punch it down and knead it a few times when you’re ready to roll it out.

Dive the dough into two to four equal balls,   and shape each ball by gently pulling down the sides of the dough and tucking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round and round the ball 4 or 5 times.  Then, on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball the ball around under your palm until it feels smooth and firm, about 1 minute.  Put the balls on  a tray and cover with a damp towel, and leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes.  At this point, the dough balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for l to 2 days.  You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.

Place a pizza stone in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 500F.   Do this at least an hour before you bake the pizza.

Form your pizza, either  by spreading the dough with the heel of your hand, or using a rolling-pin to get an even circle.  Form a slightly thicker raised rim around the edge of the circle.  Brush everything with a little olive oil.  You can transfer the pizza to a lightly oiled pizza pan, or you can bake it directly on the stone.

Now get creative .  Spread the dough a little marinara sauce or pesto sauce,   or simply top with a mozzarella cheese.  Add a couple of toppings, sprinkle with a little fresh or dried herbs.  Now dust a pizza paddle with semolina or cornmeal and slip it under the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the baking stone or into the pizza pan.    You can place the pizza pan on the stone-the heat from the stone will help it achieve a crisp crust.  Bake until the cheese topping is bubbling and the right of the crust is a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Using the pizza paddle to slide the pizza out of the oven and onto a cutting  board.  Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the pizza into slices and serve immediately.  Enjoy.


Two of our favorite pizzas have the following toppings.

#l  home-made tomato sauce,  mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese,  baked then topped with prosciutto and arugula and generous grinds of black pepper.

#2 mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, blue cheese, caramelized onions with fresh thyme and pitted Greek olives.



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