Summer sauces make simple meals more spectacular

Summer is the season of lazy meals, easy cooking and casual foods. Sauces go a long way to make the simple more spectacular, especially when grilling is on everyone’s menu plan.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are in abundance. Use them in creative ways to add an easy flavour zap to any meal.

Toss a pasta, top a grilled steak, mix in with yogurt or sour cream for a dip or add to ground meat or soups. Use a herb sauce as a base for a salad vinaigrette dressing by whisking in a good olive oil and a your favourite vinegar.

Make sauces when the ingredients are readily available. The sauces will keep in the refrigerator for a week or more.

Silver Palate’s Green Sauce

Silver Palate Cookbook is my go-to book whenever I am looking for ideas. Published in the 1980s, it is as relevant today as it was back then.

This sauce is perfect for asparagus or folded into chilled, boiled potatoes for a salad.

  • 2 c. parsley leaves 500 mL
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1/2 c. fresh dill 125 mL
  • 3 anchovy fillets, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. capers, drained 15 mL
  • 6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 90 mL
  • 3/4 c. olive oil 175 mL
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 hard cooked eggs, finely chopped

Chop parsley, green onions and dill in food processor fitted with steel blade or a blender. Add anchovies, garlic, capers and lemon juice. Process until smooth.

With the machine running, add oil in a thin, steady stream.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in eggs. Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook.

Zhoug

This evening I topped my prime sirloin strip with zhoug. It was a match made in culinary heaven. Zhoug is a spicy herb sauce that you find in Syria and Israel. It’s often served with falafel. Stir it into scrambled eggs, spread it on a sandwich, mix it with Greek yogurt to make a dip or add it to ground beef to make a burger.

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, with or without seeds
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves 75 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 375 mL
  • 2 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil 125 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar 7 mL

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

Mint pesto

Pesto can be made from a multitude of herbs and nuts. I have an abundant supply of mint in my garden and I make this often. I especially like it on salmon or steelhead trout.

  • 1 c. fresh mint leaves, packed 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves, packed 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil 125 mL

Place all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve. Can be refrigerated for up to four weeks in a covered container.

Red Wine barbecue sauce

Yes, we can buy barbecue sauce but why not have a house specialty. Take your grilled foods to the next level with your own special sauce. Use this with pulled meats, burgers, steaks and roasts. Add a little honey and it will be perfect with chicken.

  • 2 cans tomato paste (5.5 fl. oz. each) 200 mL
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce 250 mL
  • 1 c. honey 250 mL
  • 1 c. red wine vinegar 250 mL
  • 1 c. full-bodied red wine 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. dark molasses, blackstrap or cooking molasses 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. smoked mild paprika 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustardpowder 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder 30 mL
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste 1 mL

Mix all ingredients together in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until thickened to your liking.

After about 10 minutes of simmering, taste the sauce and adjust the cayenne pepper. Then continue simmering for the remaining five minutes.

Let cool, and pour into a bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. This sauce will keep for months in the refrigerator, and it also freezes well.

Tzatziki sauce

This traditional Greek yogurt sauce is as good with vegetable spears as it is with skewers of grilled ground meat.

  • 1/2 c. grated peeled English cucumber 125 mL
  • 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt 75 mL
  • 1/3 c. sour cream 75 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill 22 mL
  • 3/4 tsp. white wine vinegar 3 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper .5 mL
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Place cucumber in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Combine cucumber and remaining ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a spatula.

Chill one hour before serving. Refrigerate two to three days.

Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs

This is perfect with tzatziki. I use a grill pan rather than just straight up on the grill. It’s just a little insurance in case the meat falls off the skewer. But it usually doesn’t.

  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped curly parsley 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice 1 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves .5 mL
  • 1 lb. lean ground lamb 500 g

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Mix onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and cloves in a medium bowl.

Add lamb and gently knead with clean hands to combine, about one minute. Divide into four portions. Carefully shape each portion around a heavy metal skewer. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before grilling.

Grill kebabs, turning every three to four minutes, until cooked through, nine to 13 minutes. Let rest on a cutting board for four minutes before removing skewer and slicing.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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