Welcome to the first installment of a series on easy sauces by my friend Emma Summer. Emma is a doula who knows just about everything there is to know about birth, babies, and feeding the whole family a yummy whole foods diet. She’s going to share her five main sauces with us here, so that we can fancy-up our meals without spending a ton of time in the kitchen!
I am a part-time working, full-time mothering lady who also likes to have time alone and that doesn’t leave me with a ton of time in the kitchen. I mean, I squeeze it in but it isn’t a large focus in my life the way it used to be. And there are always dirty dishes in my sink. And something has to be on the table every night.
So, when I say I love sauces, I am not talking about anything that takes forever to prepare or cook.
Before you start putting sauce on everything, a little education is in order.
There are 5 “mother sauces” in traditional french cuisine and I won’t get into them. But I mention them because this is how to construct your own foundation for sauce making. You have categories: savory vs. sweet, thick vs. thin, etc. and once you’ve learned how to start each of them, you improvise as you go (and pair with what you’re eating).
I think that often times, certain ones of us think “sauce” and we think “unhealthy” because we picture a lake full of butter or something, but as you can see, lots of sauces are really quite dense nutrient-wise and, as Eileen would say, the best vegetable is the one you eat, so even if they’re full of coconut oil (or, for us, butter – or both!), if they help you eat dark leafy greens, use them!
So, I’m going to introduce you, one at a time, to MY 5 “mother sauces” meaning the ones I make the most and which I think are yummiest and, most importantly, versatile and easy to make once you have some basic building blocks.
This almost doesn’t count, it’s so simple.
But, it’s delicious. You can throw it on the stove and forget about it. It’s a sweet vinegar so it can go on desserts (top ice cream a la Molly Moon) or savory protein. My favorite is on top of an onion tart but that requires puff pastry, so once we find a vegan one, I’ll share that recipe here! The process of heating it and burning off some vinegar leaves it balsamic-y but mellower than straight vinegar and it’s easier to arrange on the plate when it’s thicker.
Reduction is the process of boiling liquid off to make any sauce thicker. The quick and dirty way to do this would be with flour, corn starch or arrowroot, but you wouldn’t do that with balsamic. You do need time for this, it will take about 30 minutes, but alllll you have to do is put about 2 cups (for 1 cup reduction) balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan or saucier and medium-high boil it until it’s thick and about 1/2 the volume. That’s it. Yum.
- Tomato salad: drizzled over fresh tomatoes already bathed in simple olive oil/salt/ pepper. Tear some fresh basil up in there if you have it.
- Dessert: over vanilla ice cream with fresh figs
- Roasted veggies: delicious on plain roasted zucchini, squash or cauliflower – Dressing: shake it up with olive oil for salads
Enjoy! Next up, fruit compote!
Yum!! I tried this sauce a couple of times. I have to admit the first time I was cocky–it sounded so easy! So I put it on a medium boil and kind of forgot about it…which didn’t turn out so great. Think thick pasty tar (thanks to my husband for that descriptive phrase!).
The next time I was a little more diligent about watching and stirring and got a good consistency. I think the more I make it, the more I will know how long it will take at what heat and it will be a little more brainless.
I served it drizzled on roasted vegetables and it totally fancied-it-up. Thanks Emma! ~Eileen
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