From Dips to Spreads, 6 Summer Sauces That Will Knock Your Socks Off

Elevate your summer dishes.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • Written, styled & produced by
    Kara Mickelson
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

1. Romesco

A blend of tomato, dried ñora chili pepper, garlic, sherry vinegar, toasted bread and nuts. Most Americanized versions substitute roasted red bell pepper and smoked paprika for hard-to-find ñora peppers. Use as a dip or side sauce for meats, seafood, roasted or grilled veggies and fried potatoes. Serve with fresh baguette, Spanish meats and cheeses, or even use it as a pizza sauce.

2. Vegan Pesto

Composed of fresh herbs, olive oil, nuts and lemon. Use a nutritional yeast as a substitute for Parmesan to give the pesto that “cheesy” flavor. Experiment with different flavor combinations, like sorrel and cilantro, or use cashew or Brazil nuts instead of traditional pine nuts. Pesto adds a shot of bold flavor to vegetables, seafood, pasta, pizza and sandwiches.

3. Chermoula

This North African green sauce is popular in Moroccan cuisine. Typically includes cumin, coriander, chili spices, garlic and lemon, although recipes vary. Red versions contain paprika. It’s a delightful addition to soups and stews and can be served as a dip, marinade/relish or sauce for seafood, meats and vegetables.

4. Chimichurri

Argentinian green sauce made with with parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar and chili. Red versions of the sauce may include tomato and red pepper. Excellent drizzled on grilled steak, chicken or seafood, and perfect for dipping bread. Can be pureed with a blender or coarsely chopped. Best made fresh, although you can find jars at the grocery store.

5. Gochujang

A staple in Korean cooking and more of a paste or condiment than a sauce. Spicy, sweet and pungent, deep red gochujang is made from fermented chili peppers. It’s found in dishes ranging from bulgogi “fire meat” to dukbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes). With a tomato-pastelike texture and a strong flavor with more dimension and depth than sriracha. Put a dollop on meat and veggies, use as a dipping sauce or to thicken a sauce.

6. Tzatziki

A popular Southeast Europe and Middle Eastern yogurt sauce (get the 5% Fage variety) made with cucumber, garlic, onion and fresh herbs like mint and dill. Mix it up by swapping fennel for the cucumber. Add to a meze platter as a dip or serve with grilled chicken, beef or lamb. Also great with whole-grain chips!