Family-Friendly Dressings and Sauces
Garlicky Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Think of this as an all-purpose dressing, perfect for green salads or whole-grain salads, roasted vegetables or roasted meats. It has citrusy pep and a nice garlic follow-through. We like to grate the garlic on a Microplane-style grater so that it becomes a smooth paste—no crunchy bits but all the pungent flavor.
This all-purpose condiment, a riff on the classic Catalonian recipe, goes well with just about anything charred on the grill, from sweet spring onions and fat spears of asparagus to fish, shrimp, steak, and pork chops. Use this recipe as a baseline and change it up however you see fit. You can make it spicy or tangy, smooth or chunky.
Green Goddess Avocado Sauce
Avocados are nutrition heavy-hitters, boasting nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. The fruit is also rich in fiber, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and plant sterols which can help lower cholesterol. When blended into a bright, herbaceous sauce, they breathe life into humble rice dishes and make salads sing. Both bright from the herbs and floral from the coriander, this sauce adds color and flavor when used as a dressing or dip.
Quick hack: Sub 3 (28-ounce) cans undrained whole tomatoes, crushed, for fresh; use rest of ingredients as directed. Bake uncovered 50 minutes at 425°.
Pear and White Balsamic Chutney
Sweet, tangy, herby, and fresh—this fruity chutney is a tasty condiment that pairs best with pork. Try it on roasted pork tenderloin, seared pork chops, or ham. White balsamic vinegar is just as sweet and complex as standard balsamic; it just won’t turn the pears brown. If you don’t have it on hand or can’t find it, substitute 11/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Any type of pear will work here; we just prefer the fragrance of D’Anjou.
Pepperoni Tomato Sauce
Turn plain chicken breasts, hamburger steaks, or leftover pot roast into a surefire family favorite with this speedy recipe. Just ladle some warm sauce over the protein for a dish that tastes like pepperoni pizza. It’s also great as a dip for homemade chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or roasted zucchini wedges. A wee touch of sugar balances all the flavors; don’t be tempted to leave it out.
Kick the (store-bought) bottle with this easy DIY dressing that blends toasted sesame oil, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sesame seeds, and Sriracha.
We swap fresh basil and pine nuts for ingredients that are more evergreen and everyday, perfect for a vibrant hit in cooler months. The warmth from the toasted walnuts will help the sauce emulsify in the food processor; toast in a dry skillet over medium-low for 5 minutes or until fragrant and warm. Dollop this pesto over vegetable soups, spread on crusty whole-wheat bread, or spoon over fish or chicken. If using as a pasta sauce, use the starchy pasta cooking liquid to thin the pesto in the food processor so that it coats the noodles.
Tandoori Yogurt Sauce
The key to this marinade-turned-sauce is to heat the spices first in a bit of oil (also called blooming) to release their fragrance and keep the final mixture from having a gritty texture. Fresh ginger and garlic add warmth and pungency. Use the sauce on pan-grilled chicken or tofu, then garnish with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge.
Spiced Apple Chutney
Here's an easy homemade condiment that's tangy and sweet with a little spicy kick. It's delicious as part of a cheese board, on a burger or sandwich, with pork chops or pork tenderloin, or tucked into the ultimate snack lunch, as we've done here.
Spicy Soy Vinaigrette
There's more flavor (and fewer calories) in this recipe than its store-bought counterpart; conventional vinaigrettes use up to four times as much oil as vinegar, while we use them in equal portions for extra zest.
Spicy Tomatillo-Lime Sauce
This sauce serves as a delicious unifying element to the meal—it's fantastic on the pork, the beans, and the plantains. The recipe makes a large batch, but you'll be glad you have extra on hand; people tend to go back for more and more of it. It keeps for up to a week in the fridge, or top with a thin layer of olive oil (to act as a seal to prevent oxidation) and freeze for up to two months. Spoon it over fish tacos, scrambled eggs, nachos, or burrito bowls.
This dressing simply makes the meal: Spoon over any simply seared or baked chicken breast and dinner is served. Instead of oil, bacon drippings provide the fat for the dressing. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat first and carefully add the liquid to avoid splatters. If you don't have tarragon, you can use finely minced fresh rosemary or thyme in the dressing.
End-of-Summer Tomato Salsa
Late-season cherry tomatoes and woodsy thyme bridge the seasons in this versatile condiment. Try it on everything from grilled chicken breasts to sautéed salmon and roasted pork tenderloin.
In this recipe, traditional Italian pesto takes a detour through the continent of Asia, swapping in peanuts for pine nuts, toasted sesame oil for olive oil, and miso and fish sauce for Parmesan.
Horseradish-Dill Sour Cream Sauce
We absolutely love the pungency and heat of prepared horseradish. While too hot to eat on its own, it absolutely sings in a rich sour cream sauce. Dollop the sauce over steak or salmon, or serve with roasted potato wedges. You can also use horseradish to add dimension to a cheese sauce or bolster a crunchy, creamy coleslaw.
Few food upgrades are as quick and simple as going from bottled salad dressing to homemade vinaigrette. Shake a few pantry staples together in a jar such as lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt, and you've got an additive-free, lower-sodium, delicious dressing that keeps for a week or longer.