Friday night is either pizza night or Mexican night on our farm. The pizza night tradition dates back to my years growing up when would make pizza and all 10 of use would share a 2-Liter of Big K — the only soft drink that we would have for the week.
I remember watching my mother grate piles of cheddar cheese for our pizza. I loved those long shreds of orange cheese (they tasted so much better than the pre-shredded variety… and now I know why!)
I used to think that to make homemade pizza I had to open up a jar of store-bought sauce and a packet of pizza crust mix. When I discovered that I could make both pizza essentials on my own with just a few real-food ingredients, our Friday nights were forever transformed!
Homemade Whole Grain Pizza Crust
I recently discovered an easy pizza crust using my recipe for Homemade Whole Grain Pita Bread. I use whole white wheat flour (ground from hard white wheat berries) instead of my usual combination of spelt and kamut flour so that the flavor of the crust does not compete with the flavor of the toppings. The pita dough lends itself well to a strong crust to support my toppings (I have made my share of weak and mushy pizza dough that can’t seem to support all of my toppings.)
I usually make two pizzas at a time… one for Friday night and one for Saturday lunch. My Farmer enjoys a hearty lunch after working in the field on Saturdays and it is nice having something prepared for him ahead of time.
I like to cook one of my pizzas in my large cast iron skillet and the other one on a half sheet pan (such as my USA half sheet pan that is naturally non-stick). I sometimes add 2-4 Tablespoons of oil to my cast iron skillet (and then sprinkle it with a little cornmeal) to make a richer crust.
Then, after it has rested, divide the dough in half and roll out one half of the dough in your cast iron skillet or on a half sheet pan. When I divide the dough between a 12″ cast iron skillet and a half sheet pan I usually end up with a crust that is of a fairly standard thickness. Either allow the dough to rise a few minutes while the oven preheats, or proceed to cook it at 425˚ for 5 minutes. The pre-cooking step prevents the crust from becoming soggy, but the step is optional if you are pressed for time.
Homemade Pizza Sauce… it’s Easy!
This homemade pizza sauce calls for only 5 real-food ingredients and takes only minutes to throw together. The prime ingredient is crushed tomatoes, which I keep as a pantry staple.
I occasionally have a few bags of homemade crushed tomatoes in my freezer that are leftover from summer’s bounty, but I usually buy a case of Natural Value Organic Crushed Tomatoes from Azure Standard or Amazon to keep on hand (I don’t always buy organic crushed tomatoes, but I do like this brand because their can lining is BPA free.)
Because this brand of tomatoes already contains sea salt, I don’t add any salt to my sauce. If I need to buy crushed tomatoes at the grocery store, I look for the “No Salt Added” variety so that I can add my own sea salt.
Simmering the sauce for a few hours in a wide saucepan or skillet allows the flavor to develop and allows the consistency to thicken (which is a plus if you enjoy a hefty dose of pizza sauce on your crust as my Farmer does.)
I usually simmer mine until it is thick enough to mound upon a spoon. (My oldest Farmer Boy helped me out with the photo shoot below!). This helps to prevent watery pizza, especially if you are adding fresh vegetables on top of the pizza that will generate water during cooking.
If you don’t have time to simmer the sauce all afternoon, it won’t be as thick, but will still be delicious.
Storing Pizza Sauce
I like to double or triple my sauce recipe so that I can freeze some for another week. This sauce freezes well in a wide mouth glass jar or in a zip top bag.
I use my trusty stainless steel canning funnel to fill my jars (and to prevent the inevitable mess of pizza sauce dripping down the side of the jar!) Wide mouth canning funnels work with both regular and wide mouth jars. I even use them when I am filling quart sized zippered plastic bags with liquid or messy ingredients. (I am prone to much mess in the kitchen, so I have to figure out as many means to avoid it as possible.)
Make sure to label your jar or container with the contents and date!
How do I know about the need to label, you ask?
Well, one year my dear Farmer decided to make a birthday cake for me (the big day is coming up this month!). He chose a recipe for a decadent Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake because he knows the way to my heart!
While I knew exactly what was in all of my containers in the storage room, he did not. Assuming that my five-gallon bucket filled with a creamy white substance was coconut oil, he proceeded to make the layers (and he even made them two days before my birthday!)
When we tasted the leftover crumbs from the pan they had a “floral” taste that we just couldn’t put our finger upon. After some inquisition, I realized that he had mistaken my five-gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent for coconut oil!
Our cake certainly qualified for “clean eating”!
Thankfully we had not assembled the layers, so I whipped up a few more cake layers — with coconut oil this time. Needless to say, it was my all-time favorite birthday cake! I did learn a lesson, though.
Even if I can keep track of the contents of all containers in my kitchen, if I ever expect my Farmer to assume the role of chef I had better label everything! I digress…
Here you have it! A recipe for homemade pizza sauce ready for some Friday night fun!
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Sucanat (brown sugar or molasses will also work)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ½-1 teaspoon sea salt (if using no-salt added tomatoes)
- Black pepper, ground - to taste - optional
- Add all ingredients to a wide saucepan or skillet and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat until sauce is of desired consistency. (When sauce is thick enough to mound on spoon, the consistency is optimum.)
- -20 minutes is a minimum cooking time to allow flavors to meld and to evaporate some water, but usually 1-2 hours is optimal if you enjoy a thicker sauce.
- Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
- Spread on pizza crust.
- Storage: Cool and freeze in a freezer safe container such as a wide mouth jar, or store in the refrigerator up to a week.
Putting It All Together
After precooking your crust, spread homemade pizza sauce in the amount that you desire over the pizza. Add your toppings of choice and bake at 425˚ for 10-15 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.
Bacon & Tomato Pizza: Top with crumbled or chopped bacon, sliced Roma tomatoes, and cheese.
I grate raw milk cheddar cheese for our pizza. I prefer to grate my own cheese because it tastes so much better, for one thing. It is also cheaper than the pre-shredded variety and does not contain mold-inhibitors.
We like to use bacon from pastured pigs that we purchase from an Amish farm in western Tennessee. I precook my bacon (usually 4-6 slices per pizza) on a stainless steel cooling grid set in a half sheet pan (uncoated pan stainless steel pan). Broil the slices of bacon on low until they are crispy. To chop bacon quickly, add slices to a large glass measuring cup and chop with kitchen shears.
My Farmer prefers to roast our tomatoes a little before we add them to our pizza. Just slice tomatoes about 1/4″ thick and place them in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Roast in a 425˚ oven until the tomatoes have lost some of their moisture, starting with 5-10 minutes.
* For a fresh take on a BLT, try sprinkling a handful or two of chopped, fresh spinach or kale atop this pizza. (I would have made it myself this time, but our spinach had found its way to the back of the refrigerator and had that “old lettuce” smell about it… not too pleasant!)
Top with your choice of vegetables and grated cheese. We usually just inventory the refrigerator and pull out what needs to be eaten. Broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, grape or Roma tomatoes, and spinach or kale are excellent choices. I have found that it helps to chop the vegetables into smaller pieces if you don’t plan to pre-cook/roast them to allow for the water released during the cooking process to evaporate more quickly.
Infuse mundane Mondays with Friday night fun!
Make a double batch of pizza sauce and freeze along with an extra par-baked pizza crust or two. These pizza essentials will be ready to throw together with some toppings on those days when you are crunched for time. I like to freeze my pizza crusts in a clean trash bag (unscented, of course) for a few weeks.
If you have pita bread already prepared, you can make single serving pizzas by topping with 1-2 tablespoons of homemade sauce and your choice of toppings, and cooking at 400˚F until your cheese is browned.
This recipe is especially fun for my Little Farmers who like to customize their pizzas to their taste.
What about you? What is your favorite Friday night menu? I would love to hear from you! Just leave a comment below or drop me a line at Bethany@ingrainedliving.com
Here’s to Wholesome! (and to Friday night fun!)
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