click to enlarge The sauce is the boss

Think of these five sauces as your passport to delicious summer meals. Transform plain Jane grilled chicken thighs or pork loin into a vibrant, flavor-packed meal with a simple drizzle. They keep well in the fridge or freezer, making it easy to jazz up any meal at a moment's notice.


Known in my house simply as "green sauce," chimichurri is an iconic recipe from Argentina and Uruguay. Verdant green herbs and savory fresh garlic are bathed in lemon and olive oil, resulting in a bright and zippy dressing that's equally delicious on a steak or a pile of grilled cauliflower.

2 cups fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (mint is a delicious alternative)
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon each lemon juice and red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste

Add the herbs, jalapeño and garlic into the bowl of a food processor along with a pinch of salt. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to one day. Can be frozen for up to one month. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Spicy peanut dipping sauce

This protein-rich, Southeast Asian-inspired peanut sauce is delicious with grilled chicken skewers or drizzled over a bowl of brown rice and grilled vegetables for a luscious plant-forward meal.

½ cup peanut butter
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar
1-2 cloves minced garlic

Combine all the above ingredients. Add water one teaspoon at a time to achieve your desired consistency.

Romesco sauce

Romesco is a rustic sauce that originated in Catalonia, located in the northeast corner of Spain. Originally developed to serve with fish, romesco sauce is devastatingly delicious with all manner of grilled vegetables, especially scallions.

cup almonds or hazelnuts, toasted (skins removed if using hazelnuts)

2 large roasted red bell peppers, peels and seeds removed, either freshly prepared or bottled, about 1 1/2 c
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped
1-2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Process until all the ingredients are finely ground, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The sauce should be quite thick. Taste and adjust for seasoning. You may want to add more salt, sugar, vinegar or hot pepper. The sauce can be used cold, room temperature, or gently warmed. (If it gets too hot, the oil will separate.) Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Yum yum sauce

Bring home the Japanese steakhouse experience with this easy-peasy yum yum sauce. It's a perfect condiment for just about anything from shrimp to steak to veggies or even french fries.

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1-2 teaspoons sriracha for sambal oelek, to taste

Combine all the above ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Shallot vinaigrette

Not just for salads, this piquant Parisian-style vinaigrette elevates grilled chicken or fish and is perfect drizzled over steamed potatoes.

2 tablespoons minced shallot
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, preferably whole grain
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced chives
½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine the shallot, salt, vinegar and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl and let stand for five minutes. Whisk in the mustard, then add the olive oil one teaspoon at a time, whisking constantly until the oil is fully emulsified and the dressing is creamy. Whisk in the minced chives and pepper into the vinaigrette, then taste for seasoning.

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer has been cooking as long as she has been walking. The daughter of beloved former Illinois Times food columnist, Julianne Glatz, Ashley offers a fresh, inspired take on her mother’s culinary legacy. Ashley studied winemaking at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand and recently achieved the...

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