Chef Notes: A healthier Sauce

Chef Notes: A healthier Sauce

One of the challenges of healthy cooking is finding sauces that are tasty but low in fat and calories. One option that is often overlooked is sauces that are based on vegetable purees. These sauces are crazy versatile and can be loaded with nutrients and easily customized to fit whatever flavor profile you’ve got planned for dinner. Basically you simmer the desired veg in stock, strain and reserve cooking water, add desired spices/herbs, throw in a touch of fat like heavy cream, butter or a flavored oil and blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit of the reserved cooking water to the blender to get the right texture and thickness. It’s that simple. If you feel like doing a big batch at once you can make part of your puree into a sauce the rest into a soup.

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One of my favorites is below. I serve it with pan seared scallops, poached fish, saute’d shrimp, oven roasted chicken, and even fried pork chops. I’ve also turned it into a terrific soup.

Carrot Ginger Sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 ¾ c no-or-low sodium chicken or veg stock (enough to just cover your veg)
6 medium peeled carrots, roughly cut into about 1” chunks
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

In a small sauce pan, sweat the shallot in the butter until softened.  Add the stock and carrots. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the carrots are fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve cooking liquid. Add carrots, remaining ingredients, and ½ cup of reserved cooking liquid to blender. Puree until very smooth, adding a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid as necessary until desired thickness is obtained.  Reheat if necessary and serve hot. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Other vegetables that are great for puree sauces include: turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, parsnips, celeriac, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet peppers, beets, peas, corn and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head. Try experimenting with different spices, herbs, oils, and vinegars. It’s a great way of getting another vegetable into your families bellies and to add flavors and variety to your meals.

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