Tag Archives: dried oregano

Quick Blender Pizza Sauce

Lots of substitutions can be made to make this recipe your own. Oven-roasted plum tomatoes from last summer’s garden were the highlight in my sauce. They keep well in the freezer and, when thawed, are still moist and lightly coated with olive oil. I ate one, of course, and it still had that fresh tomato taste, concentrated from the roasting.

This sauce is thicker and has a more concentrated tomato flavor than the Quick, Light Pizza Sauce I made a year ago.

Quick Blender Pizza Sauce

  • Servings: makes 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup oven roasted or sun-dried plum tomatoes ( I used 15 tomato halves)
  • 5-6 cloves or about 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 -4 canned peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup juice from tomato can—enough to bring to consistency of a thick sauce

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, adding more tomato juice as needed.

I used the sauce on this pizza: Pizza Day One and Day Two—following the directions for the dough, but using red sauce instead of  white. Since I wrote those posts, I acquired cast iron skillets (12″ and 8″) and have been happily making my pizzas in them.




Are these the “Special Potatoes”?

We were watching Sunday night’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown visit to the Greek islands and twice he mentioned a “special potatoes” dish, as if it always appears with Greek meals. After the second mention, we looked at each other and asked “What the heck are special potatoes?” He never said, and I still don’t know, but I’m pretending that he meant these roasted potatoes with garlic, lemon, and oregano. We’re not having lamb or fish or any meat you might find in Greece—just burgers—and it is cold and rainy, instead of sunny and beachside, but maybe these potatoes will add a little sunshine to an otherwise ordinary meal.

And, by the way, it was a really lovely episode, very relaxing and beautiful, like you expect a vacation to be, and it was nice to see Bourdain being domestic, making food for his friends.

I’m following the recipe on Epicurious without variation, even down to using fresh lemon juice and fresh oregano. I do have doubts that 3 pounds of potatoes will fit nicely in the suggested 9″ x 13″ dish without being crowded, and the roasting time seems short, but I’ll give it a chance. If you read the comments below the original recipe, you will find a few complaints, but I have advice about those:

  1. Some readers complained about the potatoes coming out mushy, but you need to use baking potatoes and you need to cut them into the suggested size of 1.5″ chunks. Don’t guess; get a ruler. These are big chunks that stand up to the cooking and all the liquids in the recipe (olive oil, chicken stock, lemon juice) without becoming mushy.
  2. Many readers thought the 1/2 cup of olive oil was too much, but I think they didn’t weigh their potatoes. Three pounds is a lot—it took 4 large bakers to reach 3 lbs—1/2 cup of oil was not too much.

Get a scale and a ruler and make sure you use baking  potatoes.

Epicurious: Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and Oregano

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 400°


3 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut in 1.5″ chunks

1/2 cup olive oil (I used extra-virgin)

1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1.5 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

coarse ground black pepper, to cover lightly

1/2 cup chicken stock (or beef is suggested)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


  1. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, garlic, dried oregano, and salt. Place the potatoes in a single layer in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with pepper—they were a little crowded and not quite in the single layer called for. I would use a larger dish next time for more browning.
  2. Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more.
  4. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. You can achieve more browning by letting them roast for 5-10 minutes more or you can put them under a broiler. I let mine go 5 minutes longer after adding the stock and after adding the juice and they were still not mushy—baking potatoes can stand up to it.
  5. Sprinkle with the fresh oregano and serve at once.

This is a very nice potato dish that would work for a variety of meals, for friends, family or company. Glamorous and flavorful, even with burgers.

Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

In this recipe, I’m referencing two posts  from about one year ago that covered the making of pizza dough and the final pizza. The dough really is terrific and I recommend it:

Pizza: Day One

Pizza: Day Two—White Pizza

I always make this pizza with a Parmesan white sauce, but now my husband thinks he has gone lactose intolerant, so I’m trying to cut down on too much milk or cheese in any one meal. We’re still going to have some cheese on the pizza, but I needed to figure out a tomato sauce that wasn’t too acidic—we’re not crazy about those rich tomato sauces that border on sour. Problems, problems, problems.

I started with a large can of whole plum tomatoes, strained out the liquid, to be used to flavor another dish, and pulsed them in the food processor with about 6-8 cloves of roasted garlic, olive oil, salt , and a little dried oregano. I’m hoping that by not precooking the sauce, it will be lighter instead of concentrated. It seems pretty thick, already, for a raw sauce, and still retains some of the texture of the tomatoes. I’ll miss the white sauce, but I hope this is a good alternative.

In my opinion, the crust is the star of pizza, anyway.

Other than the sauce, I’m using the same toppings that we like—country sausage and roasted bell peppers. Since I put oregano in the sauce, I’m leaving out the arugula that I like on a white sauce. I’m going light on the Parmesan and mozzarella, but can’t leave them out completely. The lactase tablets will have to get him through that.

Quick, Light Pizza Sauce

  • Servings: covers at least 3 12-inch pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy
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I large 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, strained (San Marzano tomatoes, if you can find them)

6-8 cloves roasted garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 teaspoon dried oregano

  1. Strain the canned tomatoes, cutting into them to release any hidden liquid. Reserve liquid for another dish, like Spanish rice.
  2. Place strained tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil, salt, and oregano in bowl of food processor.
  3. Pulse to a fairly smooth consistency.
  4. Spread on pizza dough, then cover with other toppings and bake according to your directions.

This is a light sauce that doesn’t overpower your other toppings—it was just what we were looking for (even though I still prefer white pizza sauce).

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

I had in mind some fabulous beef tacos I had a few years ago in a restaurant called Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, near Cleveland, Ohio. A faculty member treated me for having helped her with some technology for her courses. It was more than a fair trade. I have no idea how the soft taco filling was actually made, but the memory was at least an inspiration for me.

I chose to braise the beef chuck roast on the stove, because I didn’t want to turn on the oven. I have my eye on a cast iron dutch oven for making such things on the grill, but while it’s still on my wish list, the stovetop will do. It’s a toss up as to whether the beef or the pesto was the hit of meal, or maybe it was the combination. Either way, I think these tacos are going on the menu of favorites.

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

  • Servings: about 8 soft tacos
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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Spicy Braised Beef

3 lb chuck roast

olive oil for browning

13 oz crushed tomatoes

up to 1/2 cup water or beef broth, as needed

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (canned chipotle in adobo sauce would be good, too)

1/2 teaspoon salt for cooking sauce

salt & pepper for seasoning beef

  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high to high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoon olive oil, then brown the seasoned chuck roast on both sides.
  2. Add the garlic and spices to the pan next to the roast and stir for a few seconds, but watch that none of them burn.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and as much water as you think you need to keep the sauce moist for about 3 hours of simmering. I suppose it depends on the quality of your crushed tomatoes. Some crushed tomatoes seem very watery or saucy, and some are very thick and full of tomato chunks. I needed about 1/2 cup of beef broth.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours, until the meat pulls apart easily.
  5. Remove the meat to a platter or board, and pull apart. Strain out the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and add to the pulled beef.

Cilantro Pesto

2 bunches cilantro tops, cleaned and dried

1/2 cup parsley (I used my frozen, chopped parsley)

1 red onion, roasted on the grill

3 jalapeño peppers, roasted on the grill, peeled, and seeded

1 bulb roasted garlic

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup Cotija or Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

*Keep in mind that roasting garlic, onion, and jalapeño produces a milder taste than the fresh versions, which may be too strong for some tastes. If you aren’t going to roast them, you might adjust the amounts to your taste.

  1. I put everything but the oil into a food processor and processed until it was all finely blended.
  2. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is blended.
  3. Store in the refrigerator to serve with all kinds of meats, especially in tacos.
Putting the tacos together:

Soft taco shells

Shredded cabbage—red looks nice

Spicy braised beef

Cilantro pesto

Crumbled queso fresco

Build the tacos in the order above. That was easy.