Total prep time: about 10 minutes
Total cook time: 15-20 minutes
This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food and Wine Quick from Scratch Recipes. The “Pizzaiola” part of the title refers to the ingredients being similar to what you would find on a pizza. I personally don’t think it tastes like pizza sauce; it reminds me more of a simple marinara. The sauce is very simple and very easy to make. I love that it uses fresh ingredients – you can really taste it in the end result. You can pair this with pasta or even rice. We love to pair it with couscous because it only takes 5-8 minutes to cook and it absorbs the sauce perfectly. Top it all off with a piece of steak and it is a harmony of delicious Italian flavors. It is one of our favorite recipes – not only because it is tasty but also because you can make it from scratch in less than half an hour.
Here is what you will need:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 5 plum tomatoes
3 sprigs of fresh oregano plus ½ teaspoon chopped fresh or ¾ teaspoon dried
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds steak (we’ve used sirloin, flank – whatever is on sale)
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it for about 45 seconds to 1 minute – make sure you don’t overcook it. You will want it to be white – once it turns yellow/brown it tastes completely different. Add the tomatoes, the oregano sprigs (or dried oregano) and ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer it with the lid partially on (to allow steam to escape without splattering tomato sauce all over your kitchen). Allow this to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring it a few times while the sauce thickens.
While the sauce is simmering, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the steak with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Put it in the hot skillet and cook it for 6 minutes (do not turn it) and then turn it and cook it another 6 minutes for a medium to medium rare steak. If you have a thin steak, you will cook it less time for a more pink center and if you have a thick steak, you might need to cook it longer if you desire medium or medium well (a less pink center). After it is done, take it out and let it rest for about 5 minutes. This is a very important step for just about any piece of meat. It will retain a lot more of the juices and result in a more moist and delicious dish. After the steak has rested, cut it diagonally into thin slices.
After you first put the steak in the skillet – start the couscous. Just follow the instructions on the box. It will take a moment for the water to boil and it should finish about the same time as your steak.
To plate this yummy dish, put a nice helping of couscous in the bottom of a bowl then top it with a few slices of steak. Ladle a nice helping of sauce on top of that. If you want to make it look extra pretty, sprinkle it with the chopped, fresh oregano.
A note about the ingredients:
Couscous is actually a very tiny type of pasta. It is made of crushed and steamed semolina (the main ingredient in pasta). It is even smaller than rice and very common in North Africa. You can find it on the aisle with rice and “easy rice” bags. It comes in a small box and there are simple instructions on the back for cooking. A note about the oregano… try to use fresh oregano if you can, it really makes a difference in the end result.
Plum tomatoes – you can find these in the produce section and they are little oblong shaped tomatoes. They are perfect for making sauce. I don’t even peel mine, just cut the stem end off, wash them well and dice.