I remember in my early days of studying nutrition, I always ordered sauces, dressings and other condiments on the side at restaurants. Now I almost never do because I have found that sauces can single-handedly "make" a meal and the flavor often doesn't match up when you add it on your own. I've also become a little bit more adventurous when it comes to making my own sauces (instead of skipping them because of the extra step or ingredients necessary) and it has made a huge difference in the end product of my cooking experiments. Here are three sauces that I use at home that will take a meal from standard to restaurant quality in just a few extra minutes.
Creamy Tahini Sauce
I got this recipe from the Thug Kitchen cookbook and it accompanies one of my favorite meatless meals. The chickpeas are "spiced" and sautéed so when you combine them with fresh veggies and the luscious sauce on a warmed tortilla, it really tastes like something you would get from a food truck. Best of all it's really simple to make - see a similar version here.
Are you wondering how to make this? I thought you would never ask - it's really just Sriracha mixed with mayo (1:2 ratio). Too easy right? I rave about this creamy deliciousness constantly because it takes a fish taco over the top with about 30 seconds of extra effort, plus if you are like me you always have these two ingredients on hand anyway. A little goes a long way and it really just pulls everything together. It's also great on burgers, or drizzled over a quesadilla (please just try it now).
Reducing balsamic vinegar gives it a beautiful, rich taste and a thick syrupy consistency so you can drizzle it on anything. It adds flavor, but also visual appeal to a dish that might just need a little something extra. I love it on pizza the most (like this grilled vegetable one below) but have also used it on roasted brussels sprouts and grain bowls. Some people even drizzle it over fresh strawberries and call it dessert - which sounds pretty perfect to me. Confession: I buy it bottled at Trader Joe's so I don't have to dirty a sauce pan every time I want to use it (and because I had a little bit of an "incident" the last time I tried to make it, long story). If you are a purist, here are the steps to making it yourself!
What are your favorite sauces and condiments (homemade or store-bought) and how do you use them?