In plant-based cooking, I have come to believe that it is all about the sauce! Previously, the idea of preparing a meal with a sauce would not have been entertained. For one thing, I was haunted with flashbacks from school days and the intricacies involved in making items like a lump-free roux sauce! The whole idea of cooking a sauce from scratch seemed too time consuming and required more energy than I had. However, store bought sauces and dressings can be expensive and, more importantly, there is no control over the ingredients.
When making your own sauces, you decide exactly what goes into it and this was a big motivation when I moved to whole-foods, plant-based eating. Sauces have quickly become a big part of my food preparation and it turns out it does not have to be an ordeal. There are many quick and easy recipes that can be made ahead of time and I now keep a few batches on hand. A sauce can transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary and with the great variety of seasonings available, the possibilities are endless for preparing new and different creations.
The following four sauces are all Tahini based and unlike a roux sauce, the recipes are very forgiving! They are all quick and easy to make and, as discussed in Tahini as a Plant-Based Staple, because of the high nutrient and protein content, they are particularly good as an accompaniment to plant-based meals. All the sauces are super creamy, dairy free and can be made without added oils.
Basic Tahini Sauce or Dressing
1/2 cup Tahini
1/4 cup warm water
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
Depending on the desired consistency, adjust the amount of water as needed. You can also add fresh herbs such as parsley to the mixture to add additional flavour or a touch of maple syrup for added sweetness.
Lemon Tahini Sauce or Dressing
1/4 cup Tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons)
4-6 tbs oil
4-6 tbs nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp salt
Basic Lemon Tahini Dressing (oil free, single serving)
This recipe is similar to the above but without any added oil. Also, if you are pressed for time and tempted to reach for the store-bought dressing, this can be made quickly by blending one tablespoon each of Tahini, water, lemon juice and nutritional yeast with salt and pepper to taste. For larger quantities, just increase the proportions accordingly.
Nutritional yeast is a great source of many vitamins, minerals, and important nutrients and is popular in vegan and vegetarian cooking because it is thought to be a rich source of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that is hard to come by naturally in a plant-based diet.
Golden Lion Tahini Sauce or Dressing
1/4 cup Tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice (1 large lemon)
2-4 tbs warm water
1-2 garlic cloves
½ tbs freshly grated ginger
1 tbs pure maple syrup (optional)
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp salt
This is a wonderful balance of creamy, spicy, and tangy and can be used in a wide variety of ways. The turmeric adds a boost of antioxidant as well as contributing to the lovely golden yellow colour. If you don’t have turmeric on hand, just add an extra 1/2 tbs of curry powder.
Method for all sauces:
If you have a blender then you can add all the ingredients and blend for a few minutes. I use a hand-held blender which works just fine. You can also just whisk everything together in a bowl too or shake together in a mason jar. However, if you use the latter two methods, be sure to finely mince the garlic beforehand or use garlic powder instead. A large clove of garlic is equal to 1 ½ teaspoon of dried garlic, or ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. A smaller clove of garlic measures out to ½ teaspoon of garlic flakes, and 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Add additional garlic. I tend to go heavy on this ingredient since when I first used garlic, I had understood one clove to mean one entire bulb. I now have quite the taste for it!
With respect to the water in the recipes, only add enough for the desired thickness. If you want to use it as a dip then adjust the amount of water accordingly but if you are looking for something more as a salad dressing or to drizzle over roast vegetables, add more water to make a runnier consistency. For the Lemon Tahini, I have even added up to ¼ to ½ cup of plant-based milk to the recipe which has worked well for me.
My favourite of the three sauces is the Lemon Tahini and, as mentioned above, I tend to thin it out as I prefer the runnier consistency, especially as these sauces will also tend to thicken in the fridge. If you are not sure how you will enjoy the taste of Tahini, I would recommend trying this one first as it has a fresh, zingy lemon flavour compared with the basic Tahini sauce. I have tried the Golden Lion Tahini sauce on a salad but prefer serving it as either a dip or drizzling it over roasted vegetables such as cauliflower or sweet potatoes.
The main disadvantage of home-made is that the shelf life will not be as long as a store-bought sauce or dressing. You can usually store them in the fridge for up to four weeks but mine are usually long gone before then. These are great base sauces to have on hand and as you can play around with the ingredients, as well as the consistency, they can be created for many different uses or occasions. Most importantly, unlike a roux sauce, these are very hard to ruin!
For more information about Tahini and how to make it from scratch, check out Tahini as a Plant-Based Staple.
If you make any of these sauces or dressings, I would love to know your experience and if you enjoyed this article, please like and feel free to share with friends.