Tangy marinades, simple salad dressings, fruit toppings for frozen desserts. These sauces can certainly make a meal. Rather than relying on oil, sugar or salt, these recipes use inventive herbs, spices and exotic ingredients to provide vast margins of flavor. And making a sauce or marinade in your own kitchen can save time and money, as opposed to reading labels in the supermarket.
See also: Find a farmers market near you.
For savory dishes:
Summer cooking should highlight simple preparations: good quality meats speak for themselves with just a char from the grill, and fresh, seasonal produce is delicious presented raw. These six vinaigrettes, pestos and creamy sauces take meals made of just a few ingredients over the top, and all of them take around 10 minutes to make.
Anchovy Red Wine Dressing by Nigella Lawson: In this recipe, the salty brine of the anchovies is cut by the bite of red wine vinegar.
Light Lemon Mayonnaise by Julia della Croce: Fresh, homemade mayonnaise boasts a depth of flavor and light, velvety texture unlike anything that comes in a jar.
Spinach Pesto by Diane Rossen Worthington: This pesto, delicious on pasta, meat or as an add-in for soups and sauces, can be made a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette by Sheila Lukins: This sweet and sour sauce will serve well on chopped salads or as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers or onion rings.
Cucumber-Mint "Raita" by Lorna Sass: This dairy-free dressing, based on the yogurt-based raitas common in Indian cuisine, is made from tofu, lime juice, cilantro, mint and cucumber.
Sweet Plum Vinaigrette by Martin Yan: This tangy, spicy vinaigrette works its magic on everything from cooked greens to grilled lamb.
In the heat of summer nights, a dish of ice cream is often more appealing than a slice of cake or pie. It's easy to turn a pint of your favorite frozen treat into a special-occasion dessert suited for company: All you need is a spoonful of one of these toppings.
Classic Whipped Cream by Tish Boyle: Dollop it on chocolate cake, spoon it on waffles or drizzle it over a hot fudge sundae: Homemade whipped cream, sweetened and flavored with a hint of vanilla, will find itself at home on all sorts of desserts.
Butterscotch Sauce, Two Ways by James Beard: Whether you prefer the bright sweetness of granulated sugar or the darker, caramel flavor of brown, this butterscotch sauce is delectable poured over ice cream.
Ganache by Warren Brown: The very definition of a creation far greater than the sum of its parts, ganache melds bittersweet chocolate with heavy cream to create a topping for cakes, cupcakes and frozen desserts.
Blonde Mocha Sauce by Nigella Lawson: Creamy melted white chocolate is cut through with espresso powder, served hot or cold for a unique and decadent ice cream topping.