We all know that a good sauce is priceless. We have tested and tried many and offer several of our favorites here.
Peanut Stir-fry Sauce
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cup veggie broth
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy as you prefer)
Mix all ingredients except peanut butter in a bowl. Add to stir-fry when the veggies are cooked. Allow the sauce to warm then add peanut butter. Stir gently until peanut butter diffuses into sauce. Then serve over rice.
(Justina’s Vegan Version)
6 cups basil leaves, cleaned and dried
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup nutritional yeast (not Brewer’s yeast)
1/8 – ¼ teaspoon salt
5 good sized garlic cloves, ends trimmed
1 cup olive oil – virgin, first pressed.
Do not use “light” olive oil, as it is not “lighter” in calories as many people think, but is only “lighter” in taste, and the quality is generally not as good. Go for full flavor! Colavita is our favorite.
Place basil in the bowl of food processor (this amount, pressed down a bit, fills our processor bowl). Add nutritional yeast, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and drizzle olive oil over the top of all ingredients. Pulse/blend until desired textured is achieved (medium to fine texture – do not liquefy.) This makes enough pesto for about 3 pounds of pasta.
If not using immediately, place pesto into containers. We use 3 containers so that each one is the right size for a pound of pasta. After filling containers, cover surface of pesto with olive oil to maintain color and create a good seal. If freezing, put pesto into small containers such as the 8 oz. Tofutti Cream Cheese containers, or hummus containers. This pesto freezes beautifully, and is a delight of springtime to all your senses in the middle of a cold winter! May also use as a bread spread, in other recipes, etc.
Our favorite way to use this Basil Pesto is as follow:
- 1 lb. Cremini Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 container Basil Pesto (see above)
- 1 lb. Penne pasta
- Olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a bit of salt, and then add the pasta.
Using a large pan, sauté mushrooms in a little of the pesto, adding a bit of olive oil as needed. As mushrooms become almost done, turn heat to very low and move mushrooms to sides of pan. Pour the pesto into the middle of the pan.
Drain the pasta (reserving a cup or so of the pasta water), and then pour pasta into the pan with the mushrooms and pesto. Mix everything to combine. Add a bit of the pasta water if needed to obtain the desired consistency. We add additional nutritional yeast to the entire mixture as well. Serve and enjoy the delight of summertime basil!
Do you have leftovers for the next day? Of course they can be reheated! Another possibility is to arrange a bed of mixed garden salad greens, and place cold Basil Pesto Pasta on top of the salad – a lovely lunch or light dinner option!
Sundried Tomato Pesto
We made this sun-dried tomato pesto by using different parts from different pesto recipes. We like to make pesto with walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts. Walnuts are cheaper, and we usually have plenty on hand. The sun-dried tomatoes we used in this recipe were not packed in oil and were salted. So, depending on which type of sun-dried tomatoes you use, you might have to adjust the oil and salt amounts.
1 cup walnuts
1 cup basil or a combination of primarily basil and some parsley to equal 1 cup
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the dry kind not in oil and not re-hydrated)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
6 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine in food processor or blender and process until desired consistency is reached. I prefer mine fairly smooth with a chunkiness remaining. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl while processing.
Serving Suggestions: For a quick meal, we just toss the pesto with some cooked black beans or brown rice pasta. You can also cook some chunky vegetables and toss with pesto and pasta. If using as a stuffing, perhaps add more nuts (walnuts, almonds, or cashews) and thin with a little water.
Cheddary Cashew Cheese Sauce
From a cookbook that everyone will love, Vegan Pizza by Julie Hasson
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013)
½ cup unsalted cashews
2 cups water
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
In the jar of a blender, combine 2 cups of water, the cashews, nutritional yeast, onion, smoked paprika and salt.
Blend the mixture on high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain.
Pour the cashew mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking continuously. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, lower the heat slightly and continue cooking and whisking until fairly thickened. This will take 10 to 15 minutes total. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Use this sauce as directed in a recipe of drizzle anywhere that you want a nice cheddary-flavored sauce, like over tacos of scrambles of tossed with cooked macaroni.
Fat Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (gluten free too!)
(From One Green Planet – http://www.onegreenplanet.org/)
Makes 2 1/2 cups
1 small zucchini, peeled and sliced (you will need about 1 cup sliced zucchini)
5 small Yukon gold potatoes (this type of potato is necessary)
1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular if you don’t like smoked
2 teaspoons liquid aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
First prepare the zucchini by preheating an oven to 415 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Peel all the green skin off the zucchini and slice into 1/4 inch slices and salt and pepper well. It’s imperative to peel the zucchini, otherwise your sauce will be an ugly green. Bake for about 15 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, cook your potatoes your preferred method. Since we wanted a fast dinner, we just cooked them in the microwave for about 5 minutes until very soft. However, feel free to cook them whatever way you like. We left the skins on since we have a Vitamix, but if you are concerned about getting the sauce smooth, peel them before cooking.
After the potatoes are cooked, mash them with a fork and measure out 1 cup. If you followed the correct weight measurement, you should get just about 1 lightly filled cup of mashed potatoes. If your potatoes are large, you may need less. It’s important to measure the mashed potatoes for accurate results. Add them to your high speed blender or a food processor.
Once the zucchini is done, add it along with all of the remaining ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. You will need to stop and scrape a couple of times during. Do not be too eager to add extra water until you’ve really blended it up a couple of minutes on high to get it completely smooth. It will seem to thick at first, but it will start to turn very smooth from all the water from the zucchini. If necessary, add just a tiny amount of water just to blend it.
Taste and add any extra lemon juice and/or salt/spices if necessary. If you are using Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce, you will likely need to add more the salt. The soy sauce works amazing in this, so only sub if you are allergic to soy. Add any desired toppings such as red pepper flakes, chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapenos. We like a kick of heat to our cheese so we added red pepper flakes but will totally blend up some jalapenos next time in the sauce.
To make it as a mac ‘n’ cheese, just simply boil your pasta and pour as much (a lot!) cheese sauce over the pasta. You can either warm the cheese by running it awhile in the blender or gently warming over the stove. It gives such an incredible cheesy, thick and stick-to-pasta result. It really reminded us of mac ‘n’ cheese growing up. Considering this is totally fat-free and good for you, we’d say that’s huge!
This recipe is one of several shared by Chef Ron Pickarski from his book The Classical Vegetarian Cookbook For Professional Chefs and Inspired Cooks (R. Pickarski, 2015). Chef Pickarski’s book can be purchased at Eco-Cuisine.
Note from Chef Ron: Béarnaise Sauce is generally served to compliment a protein served as an entrée. It would go well with seitan steak, vegan chicken cutlets, walnut loaf, and seared tempeh.
¼ cup water (or 2 T each of water and red wine)
¼ cup white wine
1 T vegan beef style broth or 1 ½ T Tamari for gluten- free
2 tsp. dried tarragon leaf
1/8 tsp. annatto (turmeric is an alternative but be careful – it has a strong flavor)
1 T chopped shallots
6 oz. extra firm silken tofu
¼ cup vegan butter spread
Place water, wine, broth powder (or Tamari), annatto (or turmeric) and shallots into a 1 quart saucepan on medium-low heat and cook until reduced to about ¼ cup.
Place all ingredients (warm liquid, tofu and butter spread into a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds. (It is optional to use a hand blender which will take longer to blend into a smooth cream.)
Before serving, warm in a double broiler or microwave until approximately 160 degrees F.
Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce
This is an easy and tasty dipping sauce. We use it for spring rolls but it’s also good on salads, or drizzle a bit over a bowl of brown rice & veggies. The sauce will keep about a week refrigerated.
1/2 cup boiling water
3 T sugar
3 to 4 T tamari or soy sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce (add more to taste)
1/2 cup chopped raw & unsalted peanuts.
In a bowl, combine the hot water and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the tamari, lime juice and hot sauce, Stir well, then transfer the sauce into a glass container with a lid.
Refrigerate for several hours before using.
Top with peanuts to serve.