5 Secret Weapon Sauces for the Modern Kitchen

Photo Credit: Stefanie Baum/Westend61/Shutterstock

The traditional French culinary canon tells us that there are five essential sauces in the kitchen from which all others are born: Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato. As Rémy from Ratatouille could tell you, these aren’t the easiest recipes in the world to whip up, and with all the butter and cream involved, they might seem a little heavy for the way we eat today. We’d like to propose some new candidates.

Lighter and livelier for the modern kitchen, here are five sauces — and ideas for using them — that will become your new secret culinary weapon.

1. Romesco

A chunky Spanish sauce made with piquant roasted peppers and nutty almonds, romesco is fantastic on grilled chicken or seafood, spooned on top of warm vegetables, or served on a piece of rustic toast with a fried egg.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons + ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 slice rustic white bread, crusts removed
  • ¼ cup whole almonds
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 plum tomatoes (canned are fine)
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 4 Tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet. Add garlic and cook until slightly brown and fragrant. Add bread and almonds to the skillet and continue cooking until bread is toasted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place roasted peppers and tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Add garlic cloves, bread, almonds, vinegar, and paprika and process to a smooth paste. With blender running, drizzle in ⅓ cup olive oil and process until sauce comes together. If the sauce is too thick, add a couple Tablespoons of warm water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to four days.

2. Salsa Verde

A bright and zippy sauce that pairs well with chicken, steak, seafood, and roasted vegetables. Stir it into warm rice for an instant side dish.

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch parsley
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 2 sprigs mint, leaves picked off
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovies, optional
  • ⅓ - ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender and pulse to break down and combine. With the blender running, drizzle in the olive oil to the desired consistency and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to seven days.

3. Peanut Sauce

Use as a dipping sauce for dumplings or chicken or toss with rice noodles and crunchy vegetables for a cool summer big-bowl supper.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (both chunky and smooth work)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar or honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender or whisk together in a bowl. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to two weeks.

4. Sesame Ginger Scallion Sauce

Completely addictive, this sauce is fabulous with tofu, chicken, or pork or simply dolloped on top of warm rice or noodles. We love it on top of scrambled eggs with a side of sweet potato home fries.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to four days.

5. Tahini Yogurt

Somehow far greater than the sum of its parts, this sauce is pure magic on roasted cauliflower, as a raw veggie dipper, or on grilled salmon.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for up to one week.


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