If there was ever a time to go long on veggies and salads, it is now, in the dim days of January when we are warding off seasonal affective disorder, flu season, sub zero temperatures and the lingering effects of holiday excess. If none of the above applies to you it’s probably because you’ve been eating your veggies all along. It’s not hard to do that if you plan ahead a bit, and it’s downright easy if you have a repertoire of go-to sauces that give even the humblest of greens and veggies some soul-satisfying mojo.
This is the first of a two-part installment aimed at getting a whole lot of fresh into your fridge and opening up Bring It possibilities like Deconstructed Lunch (coming atcha soon) instead of a boring old sandwich or sad-looking leftovers.
These sauces are all easy to prepare and most are lightening quick as well. They dress up salads, sandwiches, vegetables, grains, and pretty much anything (inanimate) that can be dressed. With any of these kicking around your fridge your meals need never be uninspired. Let’s start with the easiest and work from there.
Mi So Easy, Mi So Good…
I was afraid of miso’s new ageyness until I discovered this dressing. Now I always have miso on hand. This could not be easier, and reminds me of the strangely addictive dressing that comes on that distressingly tiny salad served at Japanese steakhouses. It is great as is, or made with rice vinegar if you don’t have lemons. As an added bonus, this doesn’t even require a food processor or blender.
Miso Tahini Dressing
from The Kitchn
Makes about 6 ounces
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp red miso
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup or more warm water
freshly cracked black pepper
In a small bowl or lidded jar, combine the tahini, miso and lemon juice. Mix with a spoon into a smooth paste. Add the warm water gradually, stirring or shaking (if using a jar) until the dressing reaches desired consistency. It may need more than 1/4 cup. Taste for seasoning. Add pepper if desired. Store in the refrigerator for about a week. Dressing thickens up as it sits, so you will need to add more water to thin.
Healthy and Hearty…
I got this in a roundabout way from Jane Esselstyn who lived in the schoolhouse next door way back before her brother Rip became famous with his Engine 2 diet book. This versatile three-ingredient (plus water) sauce is a healthy, Esselstyn family favorite, featured in Rip and Jane’s latest book, My Beef with Meat as well. Put it on anything from kale and quinoa to pizza and grilled cheese (and probably burgers, but don’t tell Rip and Jane).
OMG Walnut Sauce
1 cup of walnuts
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp low-sodium tamari sauce (soy sauce)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water, for desired consistency
Combine the walnuts, garlic and tamari in a food processor and blend, adding water until the desired texture is reached, (1/4 to 1/2 cup). Use more water for a thinner dressing, less water for a thicker dip.
Shallots are just plain magic. Mince them into any dressing, (like this one from Joy The Baker, also pictured above) and they make everything work. This sauce is part of the more involved Spring Roll Salad from 101 Cookbooks, which is a taste sensation. It requires roasting shallots, which is super easy and makes them even better if that is possible. As you know from roastarama. I can’t help filling up a high temp oven, so I threw more shallots and an unpeeled head of garlic onto the sheet as well. It’s pretty handy to have both on hand for anything that needs some cha-cha (dressings, hummus, stir fry’s, etc) throughout the week.
Roasted Shallot Peanut Sauce
Makes 2 cups
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tbsp natural sugar, preferably maple sugar or evaporated cane sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp shoyu
3 medium shallots, unpeeled
2 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Place the shallots on a parchment-covered baking sheet and roast until they are very tender and the juices have started to ooze out, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the shallots cool slightly, and then squeeze the pulp out of the skins. Place the shallot pulp and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated for up to a week. Heat or serve at room temperature.
And for some spice…
For a spicy girl trapped in a houseful of Yankees this sauce is money. Put it on anything that needs some zap, or just on toast or a piece of sharp cheddar. I love that it relies on jarred stuff from your pantry, and of course that it involves the blender. Oh, and it makes a great DIY gift.
Pantry Raid Spicy Sauce
From Food 52
Makes 2 cups (Where this recipe calls for ounces my guestimates are included. It’s not an exact science.)
4 ounces B&G hot cherry peppers or other pickled hot peppers, stemmed (a generous ¾ cup, or about 8)
2 ounces roasted red peppers (1/3 cup or so)
2 ounces crushed tomato (same as above, about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp chile flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and mix until slightly smooth.