Three No-Cook Summer Sauces

Three No-Cook Summer Sauces

In the summer, not only do I want to minimize the time spent cooking in a hot kitchen…

I also want to minimize the time spent thinking about cooking in a hot kitchen. This is why you can open my fridge any day between June and September and almost always find a jarred, homemade sauce, and possibly even two or three of them, usually housed in old jam jars. I think of a summer sauce as generally fresh and bold, with a consistency somewhere between a dip and a dressing, but the most important thing about them is that they require only a whisk or a blender and zero heat. When you have one loyally waiting to be deployed for dinner, it feels like most of the hard work has already been done, and all you have to do is add something grilled — meat, fish, vegetables — to make it a meal. Here are my three favorite examples of this strategy.

Spicy Avo Sauce

Spicy Avo Sauce
You can use this creamy vegan sauce on everything, but it’s especially amazing with grilled fish (salmon in particular) or spooned right out of the jar. (Kidding! Sort of!) It’s from Sara Forte who runs the Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club, and is a genius at making high-flavor, vegetable-forward family meals. She recommends using it on salmon tacos, in grain bowls, on egg sandwiches, as a spread in a veggie sandwich with greens and pickled onions, or on a veggie burger.

2 cloves of garlic
1/2 bundle of cilantro, including stems (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 jalapeño mostly seeded
1/4 cup of roasted, salted pepitas (pistachios work too)
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
2 ripe avocados pitted

In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, pumpkin seeds, lime juice, olive oil, water, salt and pulse a few times to break down. Add the flesh of the avocados and pulse again until combined, but not completely pureed. You’re going for a consistency that’s thinner than guacamole but thicker than salad dressing. If it looks too thick, taste, and add lime juice or water to thin. Taste for seasoning, set aside in the fridge. Sauce will keep about 3 to 5 days.

Herby Yogurt Horseradish Dressing

Herby Yogurt Horseradish Dressing
This is my favorite sauce to make with anything grilled, from chicken to salmon to asparagus. The creamy-tanginess is such a nice contrast with a char. Other uses: fried fish, grilled salmon, grilled kale.

2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 medium lemon)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup plain yogurt (preferably 2% or higher, Greek yogurt is fine)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons fresh dill, loosely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, loosely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients. If it’s too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the consistency of a salad dressing. You can also shake everything in a jam jar without blending, but let it sit for about a half hour if you do this to allow the flavors to meld. It keeps for about 4 days in the refrigerator.

Creole Rémoulade

Creole Rémoulade

Creole Rémoulade
This version of the classic Creole sauce comes from Vegetable Kingdom, by Bryant Terry, the James Beard Award winning chef and educator who writes about recipes from the African diaspora. Serve alongside fried onions, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, fish cakes, fried fish, fried green tomatoes, or anywhere you’d use tartar sauce.

3/4 cup mayonnaise (vegan or regular)
1/4 cup Creole-style mustard or whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped gherkins
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, capers, gherkins, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. The rémoulade will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator.

P.S. A magic grid of salad dressings and a delicious grilled corn salad.

(Photos by Jenny Rosenstrach.)

  1. Amy says...

    Oh my gosh, the spicy avo sauce is so good! We had it with a simple sauteed halibut and brown rice a couple of days ago, and yes, you just want to put it on everything! My husband and daughter begged me to make it again tonight, and we will dip chips in it and use it inside our burritos! I subbed in pistachios as mentioned in the recipe, and they work great! Thank you for a new favorite — I will be making this many times in the future!!!

  2. Bridget says...

    My husband and I are quarantining with our twin toddlers at my aunt’s house in rural Massachusetts. We’ve been having a blast cooking up big feasts for ourselves every night. I shared this post with my aunt and she was excited to whip up the first sauce. When I came in for dinner last night, she said, “you will never believe how much this flavor combination tastes like ginger!” Come to find out, she accidentally added ginger instead of garlic from a tube in the fridge. We added garlic and mixed again. A much different taste, but also delicious!

  3. Susannah says...

    I made the yogurt dressing and we put it on fish tacos for dinner, so good!

  4. Claire says...

    I am a saucy lady, and can’t wait to try these.

  5. Renée says...

    Jenny’s posts are always so spot on! I too would love the shrimp recipe if there is one to share–looks like it’s panko-crusted?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      This is my basic formula: Add a generous amount of vegetable oil to a large, deep-sided skillet set over medium-high heat. In a bowl mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup club soda (or seltzer) salt, and pepper. On a plate, mix about 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko) with more salt and pepper. Individually dunk each piece of (peeled) shrimp in the mixture (let excess drip off), then dredge in the bread crumbs. Fry in a pan until cooked through, usually about 2 minutes a side. Drain on paper towels.

  6. Renee says...

    YUM! Always a big fan of Jenny’s posts. Definitely going to try the avo one (and probably all three!)

  7. Nish says...

    These all look amazing, thank you! Having a jar of something in the fridge is my key to a quick-tasty working from home lunch. The tahini-lemon-garlic sauce from Michael Solomonov / serious eats and harissa with yoghurt are my standards at the moment, can’t wait to add these to the mix.

  8. Jennifer says...

    All the sauces look amazing! Those crispy shrimp served alongside the remoulade also look super tasty, would there be a recipe to share for those as well?

  9. Amanda says...

    I made chimichurri sauce earlier in the summer (I riffed on bon appetit’s recipe) and it was… so good. It’s kind of a lot of chopping up front, but it’s well worth the effort! I put it on everything from rice bowls, to quesadillas, to grilled meat/veggies, to salads. It’s such a bright pop!

  10. liz says...

    dayummn, these looks good. Do you think the avocado one would be fine without jalapeno or should I add a substitute? Sadly, my body can’t handle spicy food : ( : (

    • Tracy says...

      I was also planning to try this by just leaving out the jalapeño. Maybe I’d add some scallions, or more cilantro, or leave the rest of it as is.

    • Lucy says...

      I made the avocado sauce last night without the jalapeno so my kids could have it. We put it on salmon and it was divine!

  11. Brittany says...

    The avocado sauce sounds fantastic, but I have that thing where cilantro tastes like soap. Ideas for substitutes?

    • Emily R says...

      Same here. I just omit it a lot of times, or if it really needs some green leafy thing I use either basil or spinach. Hope that helps!

    • Meg says...

      I made the avocado sauce today and was short on cilantro, so I subbed parsley. It was delicious!

  12. karen says...

    Love a ready-to-go sauce. Thanks for the ideas

  13. A says...

    The spicy avo sauce sounds *INCREDIBLE*. Thank you for giving me something new to try!

  14. Christine says...

    So far this summer I have had a mason jar of green goddess dressing (my version is greatly improvised week over week but includes any and all green herbs I have, mayo, yogert, s&p, a glug of olive oil, and maybe a squueze of lemon juice) in the fridge. It is used on grain bowls, salads, crudite dip, and more than once just as a bread dip.

    White not strictly non-cook, I did make this charred scallion salsa for the fam the other day to rave reviews:

  15. As an avocado lover, your spicy avo sauce sounds absolutely wonderful and I will be sure to try it out!

  16. Vicki says...

    Yum! Our summer go to for a sandwich/burger spread ir french fry dip has been 2-1 mayo-TJschili onion crunch- it’s addictive!

    • Danielle says...

      I’ve lost count of how many jars of TJ’s Chili Onion Crunch we’ve bought. Condiment of the year!

    • Mercy says...

      Oooh thanks for the idea on the chili onion crunch! It looked intriguing when I saw it in store. But now in these pandemic days I live way too far from one, Trader Joe’s is seriously one of the things I miss most about ‘normal’ life!

  17. Sasha L says...

    We love Korean tofu tacos, and this sauce is the best!!

    Mayo, Maple syrup, sriracha, green onions. Amazing on the tacos, also on a veggie burger, as a salad dressing, on bean and potato burritos.

  18. Elizabeth says...

    We regularly make Stephanie Izard’s magic sauce to serve with green beans (as she does), grilled or sauteed sugar snap peas, asparagus, salmon, etc. Highly recommend!

  19. these all look incredible! Your avo sauce with the salmon looks like what I’ll need for dinner!

  20. Carolyn says...

    I am so excited to try these! I adamantly believe that the difference between a good meal and a great meal is a fantastic sauce, and the last thing I want to do in July is stand over a hot pan with a whisk.

  21. Katie says...

    I just made the creole remoulade a few days ago (for the sweet potato asparagus po’ boys in Vegetable Kingdom) and it was delicious! Looking forward to trying these other sauce recipes!

    • jane says...

      That book looks amazing – I’ve got to get it.

  22. Anna says...

    No further comment needed.

  23. Ashleigh Wilson says...

    You guys nailed it today!! Thank you for this!

  24. Katie says...

    And my search for a small blender or food processor begins! These all sound amazing!

    • Carolyn says...

      Consider a nutribullet, or you could probably use a handheld immersion blender!

    • Sarz says...

      I don’t know what your budget is, but I was lucky enough to be given a hand-me-down Ninja, and it seriously changed my life. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t reach for their bullet-sized attachment. Happy blending! <3

    • Nectar says...

      I bought an immersion blender that had food processor attachments.

    • Breamons says...

      My budget was super small and I didn’t want to invest in something I barely used – So I got the hamilton beach immersion blender that combines into a food processor. It was about $17. That thing does WORK. It couldn’t break down ice – it’s only flaw. But it has made gallons and pesto, tomato sauce, hummus, did I mention PESTO? Also being able to stick the immersion blender end in a soup or chili to make a creamier texture has been fantastic. Highly recommend.

    • Abbey says...

      I second the immersion blender with attachments suggestion. It’s insanely versatile, and reasonably priced. I use my immersion blender every single day.

    • Katie says...

      Ahhh I was hoping people would drop suggestions! Thanks y’all, this community is the best ❤