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Dough balls with a marinara dipping sauce

Marinara Dipping Sauce

A simple marinara is a staple make-ahead side for any pizza event. Although it could be used on New York or Chicago deep-dish pies (Neapolitan style calls for an uncooked sauce), this flavour-packed sauce is best suited to dipping leftover pizza crusts, garlic knots, baked dough balls, or mozzarella sticks into, thanks to its rich flavour and thick texture.

As this comprehensive overview notes, traditional marinara sauce is all about balance — simmered just to the point the tomatoes are cooked while still maintaining the taste and juice of fresh tomatoes. That’s also great for pasta.

For a dip, we like something a little chunkier that doesn’t run to prevent the dreaded dip drip. This is a thick sauce that reduces by a third, cooking down sun-ripened San Marzano tomatoes – a Neapolitan standard – with tomato purée, a touch of sugar, salt and pepper. Fresh basil and crushed garlic infuse added flavour during the cook and blend even better while the sauce cools in the fridge.

Serves 4 to 6 as a starter or side

30 minutes active time

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato purée
500 grams can tinned plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
Pinch flaked salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 basil sprigs

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the crushed garlic cloves and cook until golden (roughly five minutes).

Stir in the tomato purée with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped tomatoes and crush them with a potato masher (or a large fork). Add the salt, sugar, pepper and basil and stir. Simmer over a low heat until the sauce has reduced by a third (roughly 30 minutes).

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a sealed container, store in the fridge and allow it to cool completely. Before serving, remove the basil and chopped garlic, and transfer the sauce to a small dipping bowl. Serve cold or warm. To warm, heat in the microwave for one minute in a microwave-safe container, stirring halfway through.

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