Spring in the Mitten + Sam’s Pizza

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My cousin Sam is the ultimate bread maker. Well, second to our uncle Renzo, who’s passed the craft onto the next generation. I’m still on the training program so to speak, but Sam’s passed with flying colors.

Every time you stop by Sam and Lauren’s, he seems to have perfected yet another loaf - hearty dark ryes, honeyed wheats, and - as I discovered on my most recent visit - pizza dough. Of course everyone has their own preference of pizza style, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not pleased with a homemade sourdough crust.

I’m still learning and have a long way to go before I’m even in the same ballpark as Sam, but between some family schooling, ongoing practice, and the reliable guidance of Tartine’s pizza dough recipe, homemade pizza has become very achievable and very loved at our house.

We top our pies with whatever we have on hand. Often it’s a pesto made with mixed herbs, topped with onion, olives, veggies, and Parmigiano. Lately, we’ve been digging a simple cheese pizza, as a large harvest of late-season tomatoes down under has left us with a freezer full of marinara. As always, cooking with a few solid foundations means you don’t have a do much to create a great feed.

The recipe for the marinara sauce that’s been featuring on our pizzas of late (and in pastas, soups and just about every other meal) is included below.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 head garlic (or 5-6 cloves), peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 cups red wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes

2 bay leaf

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil. Add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper; sauté until onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and oregano, sautéing another few minutes. Deglaze pan with red wine and stir in tomato paste, cooking until wine is reduced by about half. Add whole tomatoes, bay leaf and stock; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tomatoes are collapsed and liquid is reduced by half, about an hour. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to purée into a smooth sauce.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

If making pizza, spread marinara sauce over dough, top with fresh tomato slices and a mix of soft cheese (like fior di latte or mozzarella) and grated hard cheese (like Parmigiono Reggiano or Grana Padano). Bake at high heat for about 20 minutes and top with fresh basil.

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