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Get Your Sauce Library Card

by белый

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The Veggie

Build a sauce library — rich peanut sauce, herby cilantro-mint chutney, lemon-caper dressing — and return to it all week for salads, grain bowls and other easy dinners.

Last week, Danielle, a “long-time reader, first-time caller,” reached out with a newsletter prompt too good to refuse: She needs help building a sauce library but is “overwhelmed by all the potential.” (As someone often paralyzed by choice, I get it.)

“I’d like to find a collection of five or so sauces that pack a lot of flavor and store well that I can make ahead and then use to whip together a quick, tasty meal. Especially with summer approaching, I do a lot of cooking with whatever looks good out of my garden and the farmers’ markets.”

She’s looking for a peanut sauce, a couple of herbaceous options, a couple of fiery options and something light and lemon-forward. Onward!

Peanut sauce: There are endless combinations of nut butter, acid, soy and other umami boosters that can make up a peanut sauce. Ali Slagle’s recipe is a straightforward concoction of peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, chile sauce, a little sugar and garlic, with water to loosen it up a bit. Riff on that framework to your liking, or to your pantry: Yewande Komolafe doctors peanut butter and lime juice with red miso, ginger, habanero and honey, for example, in her baked tofu with peanut sauce and coconut-lime rice (above).

Use it in: Green Bean and Tofu Salad | Gado-Gado | Cold Noodle Salad

Green goddess dressing: For those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, a traditional green goddess dressing, which calls for anchovies, won’t suffice (and might be too pungent toward the end of the week, anyway). But the sauce’s most critical flavor, I think, is the tarragon anyway. Ali’s vegan version honors that but swaps out the fish for soy sauce and the mayonnaise for tahini, elongating the dressing’s life span for all of your week’s salads.

See also
The Ingenuity of Lowcountry’s Deviled Crab

Use it in: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad | Coleslaw | Tortellini Pasta Salad

Chile crisp: On its own, chile crisp will enhance even the simplest weeknight grain bowl, stir-fry or quick pasta (and you can easily make it at home). But you can also incorporate it into vinaigrettes — or even whisk it into your peanut sauces! A chile crisp vinaigrette needn’t be much more than the aforementioned crisp, rice vinegar and soy sauce.

Use it in: Dumpling Tomato Salad With Chile Crisp Vinaigrette | Tofu and Green Beans With Chile Crisp | Sweet Chile Grain Bowl

A little lemony number: A lemon-caper dressing will add loads of tang to simple salads or heaps of roasted vegetables — but it won’t last terribly long in the fridge, as the acid from the lemon will, over time, alter the overall flavors from bright to pickle-y. Samin Nosrat’s simple yogurt sauce (or a simple tahini sauce for those abstaining from dairy), cut with fresh lemon juice, will last a week in the fridge and can still check those “light” and “lemon-forward” boxes.

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