This magical herby sauce has revealed a whole world to me, both in terms of sauces and vegetables. Why, you may ask.
Firstly, I’ve learnt that using a few well-mixed ingredients we can get an awesome creamy sauce to dribble over almost any kind of vegetables, bringing them to the next level. This is great because, on the journey to making vegetables exciting, we sometimes tend to add unnecessary fat, salt or spices that not only cover the actual flavour of the vegetable but make the dish heavier than it has to be. I know the intentions are good, and that all we want is a flavourful meal, but there are other exciting ways of bringing veggies to life. This is where sauces like this one come into play.
Secondly, I’ve realised that creating a good sauce is actually not that difficult! And this comes from someone who was not brought up in a saucy-environment, if you know what I mean… At home we ate meat and fish with only a little salt & pepper sprinkled on top, sometimes dried herbs but very few. Sauces were only present when we prepared pasta, which we didn’t eat that often, or when the Winter came and we ate meatballs or fricandó. That’s it! We never ate fish with a sauce or baked roasted vegetables and then cover them with something creamy. So this thing called “sauce” that maybe a lot of you grew up with is something relatively new in my kitchen.
This particular herby sauce was inspired in the GKS’ magical green sauce. I borrowed the name because this is a magical sauce. The main ingredients are:
- Herbs: basil, mint, cilantro
- Maple syrup
- Lime juice
- Red onions
The structure of a sauce
The list above can sound a little complex for some. Let’s reduce it to the elements, so we understand the “parts” of this sauce. Understanding the structure of this sauce will help us become more creative and free the next time, enabling us to make a sauce out of ingredients we have in our kitchens, without the need of a strict recipe:
- Texture (oil, water, avocado, cashews)
- Savouriness (capers)
- Sweetness (maple syrup)
- Freshness (3 herbs, chili, red onion, garlic)
- Acid (lime juice)
From 13 ingredients used, we reduced our sauce to 5 elements. Why is this important? Let’s imagine that you have a few potatoes, carrots and beans in your pantry. You want to boil/bake them but have nothing to spice them up. You think of making a sauce, perhaps this magical herby one, but you realise you don’t have the ingredients listed above. Oh well, I’ll just order in, you’ll tell yourself. But wait! You don’t need all of these ingredients, or to follow a recipe! All you need is a bit of imagination and structure.
How to build a sauce
Example: glorious peanut sauce
Ingredients: ginger, garlic, peanut butter, orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, cayenne pepper
- Texture: sesame oil, peanut butter
- Savouriness: soy sauce
- Sweetness: honey
- Freshness: ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper
- Acid: lime and orange juice (the latter can add sweetness too, depending on its condition!)
To make a sauce you don’t need the 5 elements mentioned above, some sauces are not fresh, savoury and sweer at the same time, and that’s OK. Ironically, thinking with a bit of structure in place helps us be freer when we cook, which gives room to more creativity and less clinging on to recipes, which is ultimately the goal. Recipes are great to learn from, instructions help us build trust in our abilities and gain confidence in how we mix ingredients, without the fear of making huge mistakes. With time though, recipes limit us: we become dependant on them and we forget to think outside the box and add our own style to our food.
I forgot to mention that this magical sauce is part of the violet Hasselback potatoes with garlic & thyme recipe. I hope you enjoy making (and eating) this just as much as I did.
Recipe: Magic green sauce
Total time: 5 mins
Notes: 1 small jar. You will need a hand blender or food processor make the sauce.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 small chili or 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 lime, juice
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 large handful of fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, mint
- water, to adjust consistency
- 1 handful cashews, or more!
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- Mix all ingredients with a hand blender or food processor. Adjust with more water if too thick. Adjust with cashew nuts if too thin. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.