At this very minute, I’m relaxing on my parents’ couch watching Lord of the Rings and eating everything in sight, without a care in the world. Matt and I have been in St. Louis for about a week to celebrate Christmas with my family. From the Holiday Lights Festival in the St. Louis Botanic Gardens to the Blues Hockey Game, we’ve been having a jolly good time. But I’m not without a favorite activity of the trip, which is our newest Christmas Eve tradition of a 100% homemade pizza feast dinner, cooked to perfection outside, on our classic Weber grill.
This is year two of our Christmas Eve Pizza Party, and I must say, I am very happy with this new addition to our holiday line-up. Although pizza is not a traditional holiday feast, because it’s only my immediate family on Christmas Eve, we are able to have a little fun and be a little adventurous. I should also note that pizza is taken very seriously in our household. So why not turn everyone’s favorite into a really special holiday meal? Our pizzas this year were out-of-control delicious. We chose three different varieties of made-from-scratch pizza; an eggplant parmesan pie with fried eggplant and fresh mozzarella, a garlicky-spinach and feta pie with sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts, and a roasted red pepper and ricotta pie. Everything from the homemade dough and sauce to the freshly fried eggplant and home-roasted red peppers came together perfectly to create three amazing pizzas. The dough we used was the same dough from my last post (click here for recipe) as we found it to be light, crispy, chewy and sturdy enough for loads of toppings. But the homemade pizza sauce is what really took these pizzas to the next level.
My easy homemade pizza sauce is the star of this post. Because without a great sauce, you don’t have a great pizza, and I wanted these Christmas Eve pizzas to be extra special. This classic tomato pizza sauce is robustly flavored fresh garlic, onion, and a blend of dried spices. It’s also a very versatile pizza sauce, as it worked perfectly with each pizza variety. Making pizza completely from scratch is a production, I can’t lie about that. But for me, the process of creating these masterpieces while spending time in the kitchen with my favorite people, makes all the work not only worth it, but so much fun. So put on some music, definitely plan ahead, divvy up the work, and enjoy every bite.
Happy holidays to all!
Homemade Pizza Sauce
Serves: 6-8 Start to Finish: 45 minutes
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 large Yellow Onion, peeled and finely diced
Salt (I’m using coarse grain sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
28oz canned Diced Tomatoes, I used a no-salt-added variety
2.5 tablespoons Tomato Paste
In a large pan, heat oil and garlic over medium heat. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, cook for 3 minutes, then add chopped onion. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt (I used 1 tsp) and add basil, thyme, and oregano. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and 3/4 cups water.* Add salt to taste (I added 2.5 teaspoons). Simmer sauce for about 30 minutes, or until liquid has reduced and the sauce is thick. You can leave the sauce texture as is, or use an emulsion-blender/food-processor to smooth it out.
Use on any pizza crust for a delicious red sauce based pie. Store in the fridge. Makes enough sauce for 3-4 medium/large pizzas.
*You can add more water and simmer longer if desired. The more water you add, the longer the sauce will take to thicken. At the minimum, use 3/4 cups water and simmer for 30 minutes for a fully developed flavor.