Roasted cauliflower with lemon peel and garlic.By Elke Probkevitz

Good ingredients are delicious in their simplest form. Changing up your routine, however, can be as simple as preparing a great accompanying condiment to create a whole new flavor profile. Making sauces is a delicious way to impart flavor to almost any dish, from steaks and chicken to fish and veggies. Those sauces can be used to cook with, drizzle over, or serve alongside your favorite dishes. Here are some basic sauces you can use as a base for adding flavor to your next meal.

Soy sauce. A salty liquid made from fermented soybeans, roasted wheat, water, and salt. It is the quintessential umami-flavored ingredient and is a condiment used in Asian cuisines. Light soy sauce is saltier and thinner than dark soy sauce. Dark soy sauce uses the whole soybean, which colors dishes cooked with it. Combine with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice for a delicious dressing for steamed green beans or asparagus.

Hoisin sauce. A thick, glossy, brownish-red sauce made of soybeans, garlic, vinegar, chili peppers, and spices. It’s a spicy-sweet sauce used in Chinese cooking as a dipping sauce and an ingredient in dishes like Peking duck. Use as a glaze for roasted sweet potatoes or combine with rice wine vinegar, oil, and garlic for a vinaigrette.

Béarnaise sauce. A French sauce made of egg yolk, shallot, vinegar, and butter (or butter substitute). It is used as an accompaniment to fish and red meat. It can also be used over cooked vegetables or as a condiment on a sandwich.

Pesto sauce. A fresh, herbaceous sauce that is made of herbs, nuts, garlic, olive oil, and usually Parmesan cheese. The types of herbs used can vary from basil to parsley and can even be made from spinach or arugula. Pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds are some of the nuts that can be used in the mixture. Use pesto on pasta, salads, vegetables, and meats (without the cheese).

Adobo sauce. Made from ground chiles, herbs, garlic, tomatoes, and vinegar. Adobo sauce is a spicy Mexican sauce used to marinate meats and fish. Chipotle chiles, which are smoked and dried jalapeño peppers, are stewed and packed in adobo sauce. Use for marinating meats and chicken.

Ponzu sauce. A tart, citrusy Japanese dipping sauce made by boiling mirin or sake, rice wine vinegar, seaweed, and dried bonito flakes. Lemon or yuzu juice is added, and sometimes soy sauce as well. It is used as a dipping sauce for sashimi and grilled meats. Add into meatloaf, meatballs, and hamburger mixture for an extra savory flavor.

Tahini sauce. Tahini is a thick sesame paste used to make hummus and baba ganoush. Tahini sauce is made by combining tahini paste, minced garlic, and fresh lemon juice and is most commonly used on falafels but can also be used on grilled chicken and meats, as a salad dressing, or dip for veggies. v

Roasted Cauliflower

In Lemon-Tahini Sauce


1 large head of cauliflower, cut into

1” florets

4 tsp. olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. tahini paste

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds


Place oven rack in top position and preheat oven to 425°. Toss cauliflower with 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt. Spread on large cookie sheet and bake 12—15 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic in oil 1—2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in tahini, lemon juice, 5 tablespoons water, and salt. Simmer over low heat 1—2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place cauliflower on a serving platter. Whisk sauce before spooning over cauliflower. Garnish with parsley and sesame seeds before serving.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

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