Easily made sauces take very little time but add a lot of flavor

May 18, 1994|By Seattle Times

Patient, gentle simmering can add character lines to the face of some sauces, but when you simply don't have time to stir until it's aged to perfection, try one of these quick and easy recipes.

You'll be surprised at the intensity of flavors that can be achieved in a short time. One of the most time-consuming of the recipes, fried onion-ginger chutney, is ready in about 20 minutes.

One of the least time consuming, tomato-basil pistou, can be made in a food processor in a minute or two, considerably less time than it takes to cook the accompanying pasta.

Other recipes for the busy-day cooking section of your files include: a yogurt vinaigrette to serve with vegetable salad; spicy peanut sauce, good with spring rolls, chicken, prawns or as a dressing for rice salad; and coriander, ginger and basil pesto for fine pasta, such as angel hair, for spreading on fish before baking and for stirring into hot, cooked rice.


The following recipes were developed or tested by CeCe Sullivan of the Seattle Times food staff. The first is from "Salsas, Sambals, Chutneys and Chowchows" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby.

Fried onion-ginger chutney

Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger root

1/2 teaspoon anise seed, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground mace (or cinnamon or nutmeg)

2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onions and fry until golden, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent the onions from burning.

Add the garlic and ginger, cook 1 minute. Add the anise seed, curry powder, mace, molasses, orange juice, vinegar, salt and several grindings black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. The chutney can be served warm or cool. Cover and chill for later use. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

Tomato-basil pistou

Makes about 1/2 cup

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 medium tomato or 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the basil and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. With the machine running, drop in the garlic and chop the mixture finely.

Turn off the machine, scrape the leaves down from the sides of the bowl, and turn it on again. With the processor running, drop in the tomato; add the olive oil, Parmesan and pepper. Puree.

Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate. Remove from refrigeration 30 minutes before serving. Stir before using.

Note: Use in any recipe calling for basil pesto.


The next two recipes are from "Provencal Light" by Martha Rose Shulman.

Yogurt vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon vinegar, such as balsamic, red wine or white wine

1 small clove garlic, peeled and forced through a press, or very finely minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or grainy mustard

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons snipped fresh herbs, such as tarragon, basil, parsley, chives or dill, or 2 teaspoons dried dill, tarragon or basil

Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in yogurt until smooth. Cover and refrigerate. (If using dried herbs add now.) Just before serving, whisk fresh herbs into vinaigrette. Use on any vegetable salad.

Spicy tomato sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 28-ounce can peeled and diced tomatoes, undrained

1 16-ounce can peeled and diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons slivered basil

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree the tomato sauce with the basil in a food processor or in several batches in a blender. Cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Note: When in season, 3 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped can replace the canned tomatoes in this recipe. Use the tomato sauce for pasta, in chicken or fish recipes, or in vegetarian dishes. This recipe is from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home" by the Moosewood Collective.

Caesar salad dressing with hard-cooked eggs

Makes about 1 cup

2 hard-cooked eggs

1 medium clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

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