When making a pizza, which sauce will probably be the first decision you’ll make. It’s up to you whether it’s the overarching flavor, or a more well-balanced accent.
In Naples, which is where the best pizza comes from according to most food critics, a simple sauce is made from crushed San Marzano tomatoes, which are spread over the crust. You can buy canned ones at good grocery stores. Although they are expensive, the flavor is quite distinctive. If you buy whole tomatoes, drain and chop them first. Otherwise your crust will get soggy.
You can use your favorite marinara or ready-made pizza sauce from a can or jar to make a traditional pizza. The salty-sweet flavor of tomato is perfect with cured meats, artichokes, olives, and other bold flavors.
Italian cheeses are a perfect match too.
Not all pizzas start with sauce. In fact, some don’t have sauce at all. A white pizza is often made by just brushing the crust with olive oil before adding the pizza toppings.
Although tomato sauce is the most popular in America, it’s certainly not the only choice. Pesto, a sauce made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese, is excellent with other vegetables, fresh tomatoes, or chicken. Pesto is easy to make, especially if you grow your own basil. And no store-bought pesto can match home made for freshness and quality.
If you don’t have basil on hand, there are several alternatives you can make. Spinach and hazelnut is a wonderful combination — less pungent and a little smoother than basil. And fresh or frozen pea pesto with fresh herbs like parsley is also good. Combine pea pesto with a smoky meat like bacon or pancetta. Because a little of these meats goes a long way, your pizza can still be pretty healthy.
Other types of pesto include sun-dried tomato, walnut, artichokes, and roasted red pepper. With the right combination of pizza toppings, any of these will make a great pie. If you need inspiration, think pasta. If you love linguini with roasted red peppers, sausage, and olives, or penne with sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, artichokes, and asparagus, turn them into a pizza instead.
One of the most popular non-traditional pies, a barbecued chicken pizza combines grilled chicken, smoked gouda, red onions, barbecue sauce and cilantro. For something really special, make crispy, fried onion rings one of your pizza toppings. Or get your Mexican food fix by creating a taco or enchilada pizza with cheddar, ground beef, onions, black olives, and salsa or enchilada sauce.
Gourmet pizzas borrow flavors from other cuisines, from Asian to Indian. Try Thai peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, or plum sauce with chicken, shrimp, or Asian vegetables. Or combine wasabi, ginger, and soy with fresh fish or shellfish. Tikka Masala makes a fantastic base for chicken and onions. After it’s baked, top with plain yogurt or raita.
Use your imagination and you’ll never have to have the same pizza twice.
Molly Ottersen is the author of bestpizzatoppings.com Look here for more great pizza sauce ideas