Sometimes, all it takes is a little sauce to turn a basic meal into an outstanding one. Dressings, marinades, sauces, and glazes can enhance the savory flavors of a dish and help you prepare a variety of healthy meals for yourself and your family. You can also use them to disguise nutrient-dense foods, such as fresh herbs, healthy oils, or nuts, that some picky eaters won't tolerate on their plates. And the best part is that it will only take you a couple minutes to whip up these flavor enhancers in a food processor or high-quality blender.
Here are a few ideas on how you can easily boost the savory flavors of your everyday meals.
Store-bought dressings can be full of artificial flavorings, sugar, and low-quality oils. It's quite easy to save money and improve the nutrition profile of your salads by making your own dressing.
For a classic mixture, blend together an avocado ranch dressing. This creamy salad topping is not only delicious, but it's also rich in essential fatty acids. You can serve it drizzled on top of greens or steamed vegetables, but it also tastes great as a veggie dip—just make it thicker by skipping the water when following the recipe.
If you're open to experimenting with different flavors, you'll love this ginger curry vinaigrette. This light dressing, which is packed with healthy nutrients from garlic, ginger, curry, and olive oil, tastes delicious when it's drizzled over greens or tossed with grains.
Marinades and Glazes
Marinades and glazes are a great, simple way to flavor and tenderize meat, seafood, and vegetables. For instance, a simple fajita marinade will take plain chicken and veggies to a whole new level. Start by preparing the marinade. Then chop bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Toss the chopped veggies in some of the marinade, let them sit for about 30 minutes, and then grill or pan-fry them until they're tender.
To prepare the chicken or beef fajitas, slice the meat, coat it in the fajita marinade, and then place it in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight. When you're ready, grill or pan-fry the meat until it's cooked through. This marinade will keep well in the fridge for a few days, so you can make it in advance and use it during the week to prepare quick weeknight dinners.
Similarly, if you're looking to whip up a glaze like this delicious thyme honey ham glaze, you just need a few staple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. And don't let the name fool you. You can use this glaze to marinate chicken, turkey, beef, and even vegetables as well.
Most people are familiar with pesto. But did you know that there are many different ways to prepare no-cook herb sauces? For example, chimichurri, a South American sauce, is a blend of fresh parsley, cilantro, and oregano with spices, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. You can use this herb sauce as a marinade, serve it on top of grilled meat and fish, or drizzle it over roasted veggies.
Another delicious herb sauce—this time from Morocco—called chermoula is a mix of cilantro and parsley with garlic, spices, and olive oil. This sauce is traditionally served over fish but tastes absolutely delicious with whole grains, vegetables, and fried or poached eggs.
You can whip up these herb sauces in advance and store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks. To make sure they stay fresh longer, transfer the freshly made sauce into a glass jar. Clean up the rim of the jar if any sauce sticks on it, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the sauce, and then close the lid.
As you can see, there are many ways to enhance the savory flavors of your meals and create unique dishes with dressings, condiments, and marinades made in your food processor or high-quality blender. Once you feel more confident with the techniques used in these suggested sauces, experiment with different ingredients to find your favorite flavor combinations.