• Pizza sauce isn't just for the pie

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Paradise Tomato Kitchens

Lots of operators use pizza sauce on hot meatball sandwiches and in entrees like chicken parmigiana. But there likely aren't many who've spiked a soup with pizza sauce or taken an ordinary vinaigrette to another level with a pizza sauce infusion.

Sound weird?

Give it a try and then let your tongue do the deciding, said Tony Lagana, a product development consultant and owner of Culinary Systems in Orlando, Fla.

"Think about a classic pizza sauce; that's an intensely flavored product," said Lagana who consults with Paradise Tomato Kitchens, a year-round sauce remanufacturer. "Anything that has that intensity can go entirely across your menu."

Sour cream appetizer

Caesar Tomato Sauce

  • 1 pound pizza sauce
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 6 each anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tbs. pasteurized egg yolk or 1 large fresh yolk
  • 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Directions 1. Combine all ingredients except pizza sauce, mash until smooth. 2. Add pizza sauce and season with salt or pepper if desired

dips, meat and poultry stuffings, salad dressings and more, Lagana said, come alive when combined with pizza sauce.

"Think about how many places serve onion soups that are too sweet or too beefy," Lagana said. "If you put in a small amount of pizza sauce, you bring in acid, which brightens it up. Put that in a more traditional soup, like minestrone and you'll really move the flavor profile up. Put a little bit of pizza sauce into some Alfredo sauce, and it'll give it a nice zip."

Don't stop at hot applications, Lagana said. Consider cold ones as well. A classic Italian vinaigrette takes on a whole new character when pizza sauce and diced sun-dried tomatoes are added. Embolden ordinary ranch dressing with pizza sauce, or add it to Russian or Thousand Island dressings; the acid will cut the cloying sweetness so common to both.

Build a better sauce

While you're thinking of using pizza sauce to boost flavors in other recipes, consider going the other way, said Allison Rittman, a chef-consultant for Paradise. Recent creations from her test kitchen include a pizza sauce seasoned with peach and jalapeno pepper.

But as tantalizing as that sounds, Rittman warned that merging many vibrant flavors takes some finesse.

"When you have a highly acidic product like pizza sauce, it's important you balance that acid component with some other component from the five major flavors," said Rittman, referring to salty, sweet, bitter, sour and savory components. "Adding sweetness is one way to do that, but it doesn't have to be from sugar. It can be a peach puree or honey."

Also, consider whether you want those offsetting flavors to balance the sauce's acid, mask it or even brighten it. In short, Rittman said, don't be afraid to experiment a lot with unique flavors.

Lagana agreed. "You've got to get out of the framework of thinking, 'I'm adding pizza sauce.' What you're adding is flavor."

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