Sauced

Like many people here in the great Pacific Northwest, I was under the illusion a week ago that spring was here to stay. Sunshine and weather in the 60s. Out came the flip flops and t-shirts and sunglasses. Heck, I even got a pedicure. Then Mother Nature reminded us that, yes, it is still winter. Back came the cold. Snow fell on cherry blossoms. Hail covered the highway with a blanket of white.

We have less than a week until spring is here. More specifically, “Saturday, March 20, at approximately midnight is the official first day of spring for 2010 in the Northern Hemisphere.” Not that I’m counting the days or anything. And despite this promise of spring and the fact that the sun is, indeed, shining outside my window right now, I have come to terms with the fact that Mother Nature is fickle. So I am not anticipating eating light, delicate salads on my deck any time soon. No, I need to continue to embrace our cold-weather produce for a while longer.  But that doesn’t mean meal time has to be bleak like our dark, frosty mornings.

Thankfully, I have people in my life like my friend Sonya who just sent along some delicious ideas for spirited sauces that will liven up cabbages and root vegetables, cauliflower and broccoli. Her email came just in the nick of time as I pondered what to do with the mountain of winter vegetables I recently purchased.

The best thing about these sauce recipes is how easy they make it to prepare quick and simple meals throughout the week. Imagine spending a few minutes in the kitchen producing a ginger and cilantro-infused sauce that can be spooned over roasted green beans and served with protein-rich quinoa one day and drizzled over freshly grilled shrimp the next. And another night just mix some curried peanut sauce into shredded, grilled chicken for a flavorful chicken salad. You can even freeze them for later use – for instance the lemon tahini sauce can be quickly defrosted and then drizzled over a plate of roasted asparagus and broiled salmon. Their uses and applications are virtually endless.  And until our northwest weather heats up for the long haul – I’m hoping these savory sauces help liven things up in the kitchen.

Some quick tips for roasting vegetables like those pictured here. To make it easy, just preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Prepare your vegetables (washing, trimming, cutting into bite-sized pieces) and line a baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with olive oil cooking spray. Toss your vegetables onto the pan and spray with some more cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. As a general rule of thumb, cook broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots for 15 minutes. Asparagus and green beans take only ten minutes. Easy peasy lemon squeezey (or so say the British).

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Lemon Tahini Sauce

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Zest and juice of two small lemons
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey

Instructions

Crush garlic and finely chop cilantro and place in small bowl. Zest the lemons and add zest and juice to garlic and cilantro. Before adding the tahini, make sure to stir it well – incorporating the oil and separated sesame paste – this is key to ensuring the tahini mixes well with the other ingredients. Stir in all remaining ingredients until combined well.

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Ginger Cilantro Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 small bunches of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger (about 3 inches of the root)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Instructions

Cut thick stems from cilantro. Peel your ginger and slice thinly. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until well-blended.

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Curried Peanut Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

 Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil 
  • 1 small red onion, minced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger 
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder 
  • 4 teaspoons cumin 
  • 1  can coconut milk (you can use the light version)
  • 5 tablespoons peanut butter 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced 
  • 5 teaspoons soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • zest and juice of one lime 
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

Heat canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and ginger for about five minutes or until soft. Add curry powder, red chili flakes and cumin and sauté over low heat for two minutes. Add coconut milk and stir, making sure all bits of onion mixture are scraped off the bottom of the pan. Add peanut butter, cilantro, soy sauce, honey, lime zest and juice, and water. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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One Response to “Sauced”

  1. Carlin & Brian says:

    Sounds yummy!

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