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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Sauces/Rubs/Marinades

TIP OF THE DAY: Chermoula Sauce

Last night at a nine-course feast at the home of our wine editor, we were served a dish of scallops, sautéed greens and a hearty topping of freshly-made pesto.

A conversation ensued among the nut-averse and lactose-intolerant in attendance, that they didn’t use pesto because of the cheese or the nuts.

There’s an easy alternative: chermoula, a Middle Eastern marinade and sauce popular in the cuisines of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

As with pesto recipes, there are countless regional variations both in ingredients and proportions. But chermoula usually starts with a mixture of fresh herbs (especially cilantro), olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and salt.

Flavorful chermoula is typically used with fish and seafood, and its green color adds brightness to what we personally refer to as “beige and brown foods.” It is also used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetable dishes.


/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula offthemeathook 230

At Off The (Meat) Hook, it’s used to coat broiled halibut. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy


Variations include black pepper, fresh coriander, ground chiles, onion, pickled lemons and saffron, among other ingredients.

  • The preferred recipe in Sfax, a port city in Tunisia, incorporates a purée of dried dark grapes, with onions sautéed in olive oil, black pepper, cumin and chiles, but also cinnamon and cloves.
  • Two countries to the west, in Morocco, one popular recipe uses dried parsley, cumin, salt and pepper with paprika as the variable seasoning. It’s often served with grilled meat and fish.

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chermoula lamb pumpkin broadbeans .au 2301

    Chermoula on lamb chops, rice and vegetables. Photo courtesy



    In the Middle East, chermoula is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. In our tests making pesto, the mortar and pestle produced a more flavorful pesto than the food processor. So we pulled it out to make this recipe. Feel free to switch on the food processor instead.

    This recipe is a Moroccan variation, with paprika. As with pesto, it is easy to make. Prep time is just 10 minutes. You can make extra and freeze it.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves*
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika (or a combination)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes or 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil†
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
    You can put your own stamp on the recipe, of course. We had some leftover fresh mint, so added it to the second batch.

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a mortar or food processor. Grind or pulse into a thick paste. It’s that easy!

    2. STORE the chermoula in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will last for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, needing only to be stirred.

    3. FREEZE extra in the compartments of an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray. When the cubes have frozen, remove them to a freezer bag.

    This weekend we perused a book that had been sent to us on The Food of Oman, a sultanate on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

    When we pulled it out of its packaging, our first reaction was, “We have no time to figure out the cooking of Oman.” But as we thumbed our way through the book, we wanted to eat everything!

    If you enjoy learning new cuisines, or know someone who does, pick up a copy. The author, an American food writer who lived in the Middle East, takes readers on a journey that is delightful.

    *You can include the small stems that attach the leaves to the main stalks.

    †A fruity style (as opposed to peppery) is preferable.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

    October is National Pasta Month, and we’ll be sharing different takes on pasta. We start with tomato sauce.

    Some people use fresh summer tomatoes to make their sauce, freezing batches to last through the year. Others used canned tomatoes year-round. Less often, cherry tomatoes are employed.

    For us, since lush summer tomatoes have drifted into memory until next year, cherry tomatoes are the go-to for homemade sauce.

    While cherry tomatoes can be puréed into a conventional smooth sauce, first up is a version that roasts the cherry tomatoes and uses them whole, rather than cooking them on the stove top and pureeing in a conventional sauce.

    Essentially, your sauce is seasoned whole roasted cherry tomatoes in olive oil; and beyond pasta, it can accompany rice and grains, polenta, eggs, grilled cheese, burgers and sandwiches, even savory waffles.

    Since the cherry tomatoes keep their shape, this is especially beautiful when made with mixed-color heirloom cherry tomatoes, or a combination of red and gold.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ravioli cherry tomato saucedelfinarestaurant 230

    Colorful cherry tomatoes are a beautiful accent to beige pasta. Photo courtesy Delfina Restaurant | San Francisco.

    You can simply sauté cherry tomatoes in olive oil with seasonings. Or, here are two recipes that impart a bit more complexity.



  • 1-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place the tomatoes in a nonreactive* 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the garlic. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar, salt and optional ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over the tomatoes.

    2. BAKE for about 1 hour, until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    *Reactive vs. Non-Reactive Cookware: Aluminum, cast iron and copper are popular for cookware because of their superior heat-conducting properties. However, these metals can react with acids in a recipe (citrus, tomato, vinegar, etc.), imparting a metallic taste and discoloration of light-colored foods. This is also true with mixing bowls and utensils. Non-reactive materials include enameled metal, glass, plastic and stainless steel.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Spaghetti chunky tomato sauce ps 230r

    Here, 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes have been quartered instead of pulsed, for a chunky sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    In this recipe, the tomatoes are pulsed in the food processor so do not maintain their shape, as in the recipe above. The reason to use them is because of superior flavor in the off season, and/or to take advantage of good prices.

    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, large dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: chopped or sliced, pitted olives (2 tablespoons); drained capers (1 tablespoon); lemon zest (1 tablespoon); minced, seeded jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or crushed red pepper (1/2-1 tablespoon)

    1. PURÉE the garlic in a food processor. Add the onion and pulse 3-4 times, until finely chopped.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. CLEAN the food processor bowl, add 1 pint of the cherry tomatoes and pulse 3-4 times, until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat to process the remaining 2 pints of tomatoes.

    4. ADD the chopped tomatoes to the skillet. Simmer, stirring frequently, until they turn into sauce (about 15-20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.



    RECIPE: Oktoberfest Burger With Pork Schnitzel

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/samuel adams Octoberfest burger 230L

    The Oktoberfest Burger, with breaded pork
    cutlets. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.


    Hard Rock Cafe is celebrating Oktoberfest with a Germany-inspired burger, the Samuel Adams Octoberfest Schnitzel Burger.

    Available September through October 31st, it has German flavor accents: schnitzel (breaded pork cutlets) instead of beef patties, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard and beer-accented cheese sauce, all on a pretzel bun.

    The Oktoberfest burger is similar to the Schnitzel Local Legendary Burger served year-round at Hard Rock Cafe locations in Germany. Here’s more about schnitzel.

    The Oktoberfest Burger is served with a side of seasoned fries and a Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer.

    What’s an Oktoberfest beer?

    Oktoberfest Beer, or Märzen, is a smooth and malty amber lager with an ABV* of 6% or higher. See our Beer Glossary for the different types of beer.


    Ingredients Per Burger

  • Lightly breaded tender pork schnitzel
  • Samuel Adams Octoberfest-infused beer cheese sauce (recipe below)
  • Smoked bacon
  • Sauerkraut
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Fresh baby arugula
  • Pretzel bun
  • Optional: long toothpick

    1. PREPARE the schnitzel (recipe—substitute pork cutlets for the veal) and toast the buns.

    2. LAYER atop the bottom bun: mustard, arugula, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, schnitzel, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, bacon, mustard. Fasten with a toothpick if needed.



    Cheese sauce can be used on everything from breakfast eggs to dinner grains, potatoes, rice and veggies. This recipe is adapted from on, a great resource for cooking with beer.


  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup Oktoberfest beer (substitute other beer of choice)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Gouda†
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Cheddar†
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or substitute cayenne or chili flakes)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cheddar 230

    Make cheese sauce with freshly-grated cheese. Photo courtesy


    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until very well blended, about 5-8 minutes.

    2. EMPTY the contents into a saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Whisk rapidly and continuously until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired; for an extra kick use the cayenne or chili flakes. For a perfectly smooth sauce, use an immersion blender as necessary.

    3. SERVE warm.

    *ABV is Alcohol By Volume.

    †Do not use pre-shredded cheese.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chimichurri Sauce

    Each country in Latin America has a national salsa, or sauce. In Argentina, it’s chimichurri.

    Chimichurri sauce is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar and red pepper flakes. Oregano can be added. Cilantro can replace parsley in some regions; vegetable oil can replace the olive oil.

    The original sauce is green from the parsley; later red versions add tomatoes, red bell peppers and/or hot chiles.

    In beef-endowed Argentina chimichurri is the steak sauce of choice, also used with other beef-based dishes and any grilled meats.

    As one story goes, the name name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe in Argentina. However, there is no written documentation of this.

    Purportedly, McCurry was sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence in the 19th century, and served in a troop under the command of General Jasson Ospina. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri” sauce (pronounced chimmy CHOO-ree).


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri sauce dartagnan 230r

    Classic: grilled beef with chimichurri sauce. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

    Another theory is that the name comes from the Basque settlers who arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to grilling expert Steve Raichlen, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” [Source: Raichlen, Steven, “Planet Barbecue!,” Workman Publishing Company. p. 159. ]

    It’s easy to make chimichurri in a blender or food processor; but purists may want to make it the original way, with a mortar and pestle. We find that pesto made this way tastes better than food processor pesto, even when the exact same ingredients are used.

    Ideally, make the chimichurri sauce a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    1. PLACE the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute total.

    2. ADD the oil in a steady stream, with the motor running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine.

    3. TRANSFER the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings before serving.


    Grilled Halloumi With Chimichurri Sauce

    This chimichurri sauce has been made elegant by pureeing. It’s served with a vegetarian dish, Grilled Halloumi And trumpet Mushrooms. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.



    You can adding or substitute other ingredients to create a signature chimichurri:

  • Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar.
  • Use fresh or roasted chiles instead of the red pepper flakes.
  • Add minced onion.
  • Try balsamic or flavored vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • Give it an Asian spin with fresh ginger and mint, or an Indian influence of green curry and cilantro.
  • Turn it into mint sauce by substituting mint for the parsley; or make a parsley-mint blend.
  • Substitute basil for “Caprese sauce.”
  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.
  • Make red chimichurri sauce by adding red bell peppers and/or raw or roasted tomatos (Red Chimichurri Rcipe).
  • For elegance, purée the naturally textured sauce into a smooth one (see photo at left).

    Like Italy’s pesto, chimichurri is a bright green, herb-based, versatile sauce that you can use with:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Burgers
  • Caprese salad dressing
  • Crostini (serve the toasts with grilled meats)
  • Eggs, any style
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Fries and onion rings
  • Grilled fish or seafood (recipe: Mango Grilled Shrimp With Chimichurri Grilled Mango-Citrus Chimichurri Shrimp)
  • Grilled halloumi or other grilling cheese (see photo above)
  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • Hot dogs, brats and other sausages
  • Marinades (add more oil, vinegar, citrus juice or and/or water to thin out)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta (toss pasta lightly with EVOO before adding the chimichurri)
  • Rice and other cooked grains
  • Soup and stew garnish
  • Tacos
  • Tofu
  • Sandwich spread (mix with mayo or mustard)
  • Vegetarian dishes, including veggie wraps
  • Vinaigrette
  • Yogurt sauce (blend into plain Greek yogurt)
    Other ideas? Post them here.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Sauce For Chicken & Fish


    Rare-cooked salmon with blueberry sauce,
    couscous, pattypan squash and zucchini.
    Photo courtesy Munchery.


    One of the easiest routes to a protein-filled, home-cooked dinner is grilled chicken or fish. We often hear from people that they can grill (or poach, roast or sauté) the protein, but because they’re not “good at cooking,” they don’t know what else to do with it.

    Earlier this year we published two articles:

  • Grilled Chicken Or Fish With Salsa
  • Grilled Chicken Or Fish With Pico De Gallo
    Today, we suggest a fruit sauce, the easiest of which, we think, is a berry sauce. You can use any berry in these recipes, and can use them over rice and other grains instead of on the proteins.

  • If you use larger berries—blackberries or strawberries—slice them first.
  • If these recipes are a bit too sweet for you, lessen the sweetness with fruit spread instead of jam, substitute cider or wine vinegar for the balsamic vinegar and eliminate the sugar.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons fig or apricot jam
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (we used sriracha)
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

    1. COMBINE the jam, vinegar, sugar and chili sauce in a small pan.

    2. STIR in the blueberries gently. If using frozen berries, first thaw and drain them.

    3. HEAT over medium low, stirring occasionally (and gently) until the desired heat is reached. We recommend heating the sauce until just warmed, not hot.



    This recipe omits the heat of the first recipe and instead adds vegetables—onions and cherry tomatoes—for more savory notes. While berries and onions may sound incongruous, they are great partners when the onions are caramelized.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple or grape juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped



    Turn the season’s fresh fruit into fruit sauce. Photo courtesy

    1. HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the sugar and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the juice, vinegar, blueberries and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then remove from the heat and serve.

    We typically don’t write about the mushrooming category of prepared dinner home delivery services. They deliver better-for-you meals instead of conventional takeout and delivery options.

    It’s not easy for us to cover them because we have a national readership, and each company services only a few cities, or just one.

    But we fell in love with Munchery, and you will, too, after scrolling through these photos of the chef-cooked meals that can be on your table. It’s like having a personal chef who cooks in his/her own kitchen and brings the food to you.

    Munchery currently serves Los Angeles, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

    You can try it out at We love that we can send a gift card to friends and family who are overworked, new parents or otherwise have no time to cook.



    TIP: Ways To Add More Flavor To Food


    Caperberries or capers (capers are the flower
    bud of the plant, caperberries are the fruit
    with seeds inside) are brined and thus
    contribute saltiness as well as flavor to
    dishes. They and other ingredients (olives, soy
    sauce, etc.) reduce the need to add table
    salt. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Today’s tip comes from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine and website for chefs of fine dining restaurants.

    They “employ every trick in the flavor toolbox to get explosive taste and texture,” according to author Pam Smith, co-chair of The Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative. “Creating flavor is no magic trick,” she says, “but certain ingredients and techniques can magically make reduced-calorie dishes satisfying—even indulgent.”

    The advice:

  • Acids. High-acid ingredients lend sharp, bright flavor to replace salt or fat. Reduce wines and vinegars to concentrate their flavor; add a squeeze of citrus to finished dishes.
  • Cooking meats. Spices added to rubs and marinades brings out surface flavor, as does caramelization from grilling or searing meats.
  • Healthful fats. Beneficial fats and oils—nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocados—enhance mouthfeel and flavor.
  • Herbs. Savory* herbs (basil, dill, oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro) enable the reduction of salt. Finishing a dish with fresh herbs punches up the flavor.
  • High-sodium ingredients. Replace the salt in a recipe with more flavorful sodium: capers, feta, olives, olives or soy sauce, for example.
  • Onions. Members of the onion family, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions (green onions) and shallots, lend a sharp taste and aroma to dishes, whether raw, caramelized, roasted or grilled (how to caramelize onions).

  • Spices. Use spice and heat to distract the palate. Make use of strong flavors like cayenne, cumin, curry, ginger, horseradish/wasabi, mustard seed, and peppercorn. Toast whole spices before grinding to heighten the flavor and aroma.
  • Umami. Go for “exponential umami” by combining two nucleotide compounds, such as a burger made with beef and roasted mushrooms or tuna with a dash of soy sauce (more about umami).
    What are you cooking this weekend? Employ as many of these tricks as you can and see how they improve your recipes.

    *As opposed to savory herbs, sweet herbs are typically used to flavor beverages and desserts. Examples include apple mint, lavender, peppermint, pineapple mint, pineapple sage and rose geranium. Savory herbs used in sweet applications include anise, basil, licorice and rosemary. Stevia is a sweet herb that is largely a sugar substitute, adding sweetness without additional flavor.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Ají Sauce

    Hot sauce lovers should take a closer look at ají sauce, a standard in Ecuador and Peru. Aji amarillo is one of the most common types of chiles in the area, and is also one of the most important ingredients in the two countries.

    While, like all salsas, there are as many variations as there are cooks, a basic ají criollo is made from the ají amarillo (yellow ají*), along with cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

    Each region and city has its own unique recipe. For example, ají de tomate de árbol—tree tomato or tamarillo ají—uses tamarillo as well as ají amarillo. (A recipe is below.)

    Andrés Dávila, executive chef of Casa Gangotena, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top Ten Hotel, offers tourists a journey through the different types of ají, with a selection of six sauces carefully paired with a dish that heightens the flavors of the local cuisine. He’s also sent us a standard recipe so you can make your own.

    Great for sauces and to kick up any meal with a great flavor and medium heat. Chewing on the chiles adds more heat.

  • Ají mixed with passion fruit, which colors the sauce a spectacular yellow, goes well paired with chicken or pork.
  • Ají with sambo squash seeds, a light green cream with a subtle smell and taste that goes well with white meats.


    Ají amarillo, in shades of yellow and orange. Photo courtesy

  • Manaba-style pickled ají, flavored and colored with carrots, is the perfect accompaniment to fish.
  • Orange ají is made with tree tomato (tamarillo) and chochos (lupines).
  • Purple ají, colored with beets, has a complex layering of fruit vinegar, grated carrots and pickle slices, goes well with both seafood and red meats.

    You can probably find a jar of ají paste in the Latin foods section of your supermarket. Goya makes it, of course, and you can find specialty brands such as Costa Peruana and Inca’s Food online.

    Aji paste is simply a purée of fresh ajis. “American fusion” uses include:

  • Mix a tablespoon with a cup of Alfredo or other white sauce, red sauce or brown sauce or gravy.
  • Add to soup (including chicken soup).
  • Add to a ceviche marinade.
  • Mix into condiments to add flavor and heat.
    *While ají is Spanish for chile pepper and amarillo means yellow, the color changes to orange as the chiles mature. You can see the deepening colors in the photo above.



    Add bold flavor to many dishes with ají
    amarillo (yellow chile) paste. Photo courtesy
    Inca’s Food.



    This classic ají sauce combines tree tomato (tamarillo), ají amarillo and chochos (lupines, or lupin beans). Lupins are a large yellow Italian bean. You can substitute lima beans or fava beans for the lupins.


  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 2 ajís (you can substitute serranos or other red chilies, or yellow habaneros for extra heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: cooked and peeled chochos (lupin beans)

    1. PEEL the tomatillos and boil them for 5 minutes.

    2. BLEND the tomatillos with ají chiles. For a milder sauce, seed and devein the chiles. You can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild.

    3. TRANSFER the mix to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. You can also skip the cooking part; the sauce will be fresher in taste, but will need to be consumed more quickly.

    4. ADD the onion, lime juice, cilantro, optional chochos and salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

    VARIATION: Replace the water with oil (avocado, light olive oil or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano-style ají, and do not cook it after blending.

    Recipe courtesy



    RECIPE: Cauliflower Salad & Romesco Sauce

    Victoria Amory is a cook and food writer born and raised in Spain. She now lives in the U.S., and has her own line of specialty sauces.

    One of the signature sauces from the Catalonia region of Spain is romesco. Learn more about it below.

    Victoria’s sells an Almond & Garlic Romesco Sauce, but you can make your own from scratch, using almonds, other nuts, or a blend.

    Crafted with red chile peppers, pimentón (paprika), nuts and extra virgin olive oil, romesco is a perfect sauce to use with meats, roasted vegetables, shellfish and fish. “It elevates your everyday meals to everyday feasts,” says Chef Victoria.

    If you have leftover sauce, it is delicious as a dip or bread spread.

    For an everyday feast, try her Cauliflower And Bacon Salad With Romesco Sauce.





    Colored cauliflower makes the dish more exciting. Photo courtesy

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into florets
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 large slices country white or wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (8 ounces) garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed
  • ¼ pound baby spinach leaves, rinsed & dried
  • 1 cup romesco sauce, to serve

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, toss together the cauliflower, bacon, olive oil and vinegar. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

    2. TOSS the bread with the garlic and extra virgin olive oil and add the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cauliflower is golden.

    3. MIX the cauliflower with the chickpeas and toss with the spinach leaves. Add a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Serve warm with romesco sauce on the side.



    Romesco sauce and dip. Photo courtesy Aida



    As with most recipes, there is considerable variation in the proportion of ingredients. This version is adapted from chef Aida Mollenkamp.


  • 1 jar (15 ounces) roasted bell peppers (pimento)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 ounces blanched almonds (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Optional heat: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    2. SERVE with crudites, crusty sliced bread or your favorite crackers.



    First, it isn’t romanesco sauce. There is no romanesco sauce. Romanesco is a language; the sauce is romesco.

    Romesco is a pungent, smooth, rich red sauce made from red peppers, tomatoes, ground almonds or other nuts, olive oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper. It originated in Tarragona, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in the province of Catalonia in northeast Spain. Though the exact origin is unclear (as is the meaning of the name), it is believed that the local fishermen made it to eat with their catch.

    It has become a popular sauce beyond seafood, enjoyed with meat, poultry and vegetables as well as for a dip and a bread spread.

    The nuts can be any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts or walnuts, plus roasted garlic, olive oil, mild bitxo chiles (red chiles similar to Anaheim/New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).

    Flour or ground stale bread is sometimes used as a thickener or to provide texture. Other common ingredients employed in different recipe variations include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onions. Leaves of fennel or mint are added when the sauce is served with fish and other seafood.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Trending Sauces To Know (And Use!)

    Yesterday we recommended serving proteins “three ways.” One of the ways to differentiate them is with sauces, and we recommended a look at the famed mother sauces of France.

    Then, we got an email from Food & The Menu, a magazine for chefs. The new issue features “10 Sauces Of The Moment”—options that span the world.

    “Say ‘so long’ to complicated reductions and rich, butter-mounted glazes,” says Joan Lang, the article’s author. “Some of today’s most trending sauces are more like condiments, following the popularity of sriracha, harissa, wasabi and aïoli.”

    So if you want to get ahead of your favorite chefs, consider these sauces, many of which are sold ready-made. Some will be familiar to you, others less so. Read the full article, which includes recipe ideas:

    1. Adobo Sauce

    Long a Mexican staple, this vinegar-based sauce is made with chiles and/or paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper, sugar and sometimes tomato or ketchup. It is perhaps the easiest of the group to find in your local supermarket (it’s also available online). There’s a Filipino version of adobo, a simmer sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Try them both!

    2. Colorado Sauce

    Rich, smoky and spicy, Colorado sauce (also called red chile sauce or chile colorado) is another find from Mexico. To achieve its namesake red color, it incorporates multiple types of roasted or dried chiles (such as ancho and New Mexico) with onions and tomatoes. Make it or buy it.

    3. Comeback Sauce

    From Mississippi, this sauce is a cross between spicy rémoulade sauce and creamy Thousand Island dressing is a versatile dip, dressing or spread osandwiches and more—and you sure can’t argue with the fun name.



    Soy sauce with a Hawaiian twist can be brush onto grilled food or added to dips, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes. Photo courtesy Aloha Brand.

    4. Donkey Sauce

    Popularized by television chef Guy Fieri, donkey sauce combines mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha and lots of roasted garlic to create a hot and spicy alternative to aïoli sauce, the classic French garlic mayonnaise. 
    5. Fonduta

    A rich, melted cheese sauce from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, fonduta is usually made with Fontina, Parmesan and cream—and if you’ve got the bucks, white truffles in season. It is served as a sauce over food or as a fondue-like dip.



    Ponzu sauce is available in most
    supermarkets. We buy this gourmet blend
    from Yakima Orchard online.


    6. Gochujang Sauce

    Pronounced ko-choo-CHONG, this pungent Korean hot red chili paste is made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chile, garlic, honey and salt. Spice lovers will enjoy a jar. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    7. Hawaiian Sauces

    These range from traditional salty-sweet Aloha Sauce (a brand of soy sauce blended with fruit juices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic) to more creative inventions like poi vinaigrette (mashed boiled taro root mixed into a vinaigrette). You can find Aloha Sauce on

    8. Kewpie Mayonnaise

    This MSG-laden mayonnaise from Japan, first made in Japan in 1925, more recently came to prominence at sushi bars in the U.S. as “Dynamite Sauce” for the Dynamite Roll.* Made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, it is yellower, creamier and richer than western mayonnaise. It is now used to give a kick of sweet and vinegary creaminess to salads and vegetables. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    9. Nyonya Sauce

    This spicy Malaysian sauce typically contains chile paste, curry, fish sauce, lemongrass and other spices. Lang predicts that “before long this flavor booster will go mainstream.” We found it available in packets on

    10. Ponzu Sauce

    This Japanese soy-and-citrus-based dipping sauce is an easy mix of yuzu or lemon juice, kombu, mirin and rice wine vinegar. In Japanese cuisine it’s served with dumplings or shabu shabu, but its uses have evolved (we like it with seafood and rice). You can buy it in the Asian products section of your market. Our favorite, from Yakami Orchard, is available online.

    A sauce is a condiment, which is defined as a food item added to the primary food to enhance its flavor.

    While some condiments are used by the chef during cooking (barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, for example), others, such as ketchup and mustard, are applied by the individual diner.

    The word derives from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or sauce. That word in turn derived from the Latin condere, meaning to preserve, pickle or season. The word originally described pickled or preserved foods, but evolved over time.
    *The Dynamite Roll incorporates shrimp tempura, masago (capelin roe) and vegetables, such as radish sprouts, avocado and/or cucumber.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce


    A three-ingredient peanut sauce. Photo
    courtesy Lizzie Mabbot | Lizzy Eats London.


    If you’re a fan of peanut sauce for dipping, making sesame noodles or drizzling over steamed vegetables, and diluted with salad oil for a salad dressing.

    While the preparation is simple—just combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend—depending on the recipe, you can spend more time or less time measuring ingredients.

    We discovered this super easy recipe version on, contributed by blogger Lizzie Mabbot of Lizzy Eats London. She serves it with homemade summer rolls.



  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with a whisk. If sauce is too thick, add a little water.




    This recipe, from McCormick, has more layers of flavor and takes a few more minutes to prepare—plus fish sauce and sesame oil, which you may not have on hand. McCormick uses it in their sesame noodles recipe.


  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil


    Seasame noodles with peanut sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth.



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