All About Sauces + Shelf Life Science
Words Kate Gagnon
Learn how to make amazing sauces and salad dressings to take your home cooking to the next level. Plus, find out how long they last in the fridge for maximum freshness (and deliciousness).
Do you ever dig into a simple salad at a restaurant and find yourself surprised at how something so basic can be so delicious? Sure, the ingredients are well sourced and prepared, but it’s fairly straightforward. What could be so different from preparing this at home?
The key is often in the dressing or sauce. Take these Brown Rice and Adzuki Bean Bowls we cooked on Facebook Live with author Lindsay Maitland Hunt. Yes, the ingredients are well paired, but it’s the toasted sesame and miso dressing which takes it to the next level. The dressing packs an unexpected salty-sour umami punch that perfectly compliments the recipe.
As we try to incorporate meal prep into our weekly routine, we’ve found that having a few sauces on hand goes a long way towards elevating a boring lunch to something more exciting. Just like cooking a pot of whole grains or roasting a chicken, think of sauces and dressings as building blocks to use all week from salad to grain bowls to toasts and more.
Here are a few of our favorite recent combinations:
Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: 1 part balsamic vinegar + 2-3 parts olive oil + a dab of mustard + salt and pepper. This is a great classic dressing to master, and it pairs nicely with almost any salad, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, or roast vegetables and chicken.
Zesty Aioli: ½ cup mayonnaise + 1-2 cloves crushed garlic + zest and juice of half lemon. We love dipping roast potatoes in aioli.
Tzatziki-ish: 1 cup full fat greek yogurt + ½ shredded cucumber + 1 clove crushed garlic + juice of 1 lemon + drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. This dip is an excellent compliment to crudite or greek-inspired meatballs.
Tahini Sauce: ½ cup tahini + 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons water + zest and juice of 1 lemon + 1 clove crushed garlic + honey to taste. Tahini sauce is a welcome addition anywhere you might serve hummus, like with falafel or in a hearty grain bowl.
Pesto Variations: Take a classic pesto recipe and try experimenting. Add an avocado for a creamy sauce that pairs well with spicy foods, substitute kale or arugula for part of the basil, or or up the amount of olive oil and add lemon juice to make it a dressing for lettuce and roasted vegetables.
Good Tip: When working with oil and vinegar based dressings, add a dab of mustard, mayonnaise or honey. These work as a surfactant to help emulsify the combination and prevent it from separating over time. We like using the Twist & Pour Salad Dressing Mixer to combine all ingredients thoroughly. (The Chef’s Squeeze Bottles are also a great tool for easy, mess-free storage.)
Wondering how long these will last in the refrigerator?
Every dressing has a different shelf life, based on the ingredients. We recommend consuming dressings and sauces within 3-4 days to be safe. Traditional vinaigrettes, like the balsamic version listed above, will last longer—sometimes up to a few weeks. However, anything with fresh garlic should be consumed within a few days, as the combination of garlic and oil can form harmful bacteria over time. Food safety aside, we tend to prefer the taste of freshly made dressings, especially when using citrus, yogurt or garlic, and find that 3-4 days is the sweet spot.
Looking to try even more combinations? Try these four simple, homemade salad dressings on your next grain bowl.