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September 22, 2021
Food Life Mi Ripot

Simple Sauces That Will Transform Any Meal

There’s the fantasy: cooking a party spread for friends, or even just dinner on any given night. And then there’s the reality: getting home late because of traffic or meetings that run long, or simply losing the motivation to make a whole meal from scratch because of the overwhelming desire to lie on the grass (or the couch) a little while longer. When that happens, a fridge filled with homemade sauces offers the promise of a nearly effortless meal.

The quickest way to dishes that thrill with big flavor is to dollop, spread or drizzle any of the options that follow on main ingredients that require minimal to no prep: Pull out leftovers; buy a rotisserie chicken; slice a block of tofu; cook eggs or noodles or both; season vegetables, seafood or meat with only oil and salt, then grill, roast or sear. And yes, you can also just grab a bag of chips and start dipping. This collection of sauces, with contributions from Melissa Clark, Eric Kim, Genevieve Ko, and Yewande Komolafe, has a recipe for just about every occasion.

Although many of these formulas start with basics like ketchup, soy sauce, and mayonnaise, they taste fresh and can — and should — be customized to your taste. Or stick to the recipe. Part of the appeal here is not having to figure out exactly what to cook: Make anything and slather it with sauce. That will leave you with the time (and energy) to hang out with guests and relax with family.

GREEN

Melissa Clark grew up with a steady stash of green sauce in her fridge all summer, ready to be tossed with anything for instant dinners. It was how her mother used up wilting herbs, she said: “Everything green and droopy could find a place in her sauce jar — and still does.” Clark carries on the family tradition, blending herbs into mixes that highlight their summery freshness.

Zhug

Both deeply herby and searingly spicy, this Yemenite condiment is popular all over the Middle East. You can adjust the heat to suit your chile tolerance and swap half the cilantro for parsley if you want to vary it up. — MELISSA CLARK

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

4 to 8 jalapeños, seeded and sliced

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste

2 packed cups roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or coriander

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

Preparation:

1. Place garlic, jalapeño, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender, and pulse to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container with a spatula when necessary.

2. Add cilantro, cumin, cardamom or coriander, and pepper, and purée until smooth. With the motor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil to form a homogeneous paste. Pulse in salt. Taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Use as a sauce for grilled or roasted meat or seafood, especially full-flavored fish like mackerel, tuna, and salmon; spoon it over egg dishes like shakshuka and scrambled eggs; stir it into soups and stews; spread it on sandwiches, especially those filled with falafel, roasted vegetables, or mozzarella and tomato; swirl it into thick yogurt or hummus for a dip.

All-Purpose Green Sauce

This sauce is the perfect home for all those extra herbs you may have on hand from other recipes — that leftover sprig of mint, that stemmy part of the cilantro bunch, that droopy basil. You can use any combination of soft herbs or other flavorful, leafy options like arugula, celery leaves, or pea shoots. — MELISSA CLARK

All-purpose green sauce in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish Ñ even the laziest snacks Ñ taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 packed cup basil leaves

1/2 packed cup parsley leaves and tender stems

1/2 packed cup chopped chives

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Pinch of black pepper

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

Preparation:

1. Place herbs, garlic, and pepper in a food processor or blender, and pulse to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary.

2. Add yogurt and purée until smooth. (This may take a minute or so; scrape down the sides of the container as needed.) With the motor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse in lemon zest and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Spoon over grilled or roasted chicken, seafood (especially shrimp and salmon), sausages, steaks, lamb chops, and vegetables. Use as a marinade for chicken, lamb, or pork; as a dressing for starchy salads with beans, potatoes, or grains, or for hearty vegetable salads, like those with cucumbers or blanched and sliced sugar snap peas or green beans. Serve as a dip for crudité or chips. Spread in roast beef, lamb, or pork sandwiches.

Charmoula

Seasoned with fresh mint, chiles, and toasted spices, this piquant North African sauce includes preserved lemon, which adds a haunting flavor to the mix. (It’s just as traditional to leave it out and make the sauce slightly less pungent.) — MELISSA CLARK

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

1 packed cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1 packed cup roughly chopped parsley leaves and stems

1/2 packed cup roughly chopped mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 red chile, such as Fresno, seeded and diced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), more to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons minced preserved lemon (optional)

Preparation:

1. In a small, dry skillet, toast cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until seeds are slightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour spices onto a cutting board or mortar to stop the cooking. Once cool, crack spices with the flat side of a knife or with a pestle.

2. Place cumin seeds, coriander seeds, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender, and pulse to combine. Add herbs and sweet paprika, and purée until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container when necessary. Add chile and, with the motor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in salt and preserved lemon, if using. Taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Use as a marinade or sauce for fish, chicken, vegetables, or meat, or as a dressing for roasted peppers and eggplant salads. Mix into yogurt as a dip for vegetables and meatballs, or spoon over hard-cooked eggs.

SALTY-SWEET

The seesaw of savory and sweet makes sauces — and just about anything — irresistible. In these blends, the balance comes from more than just salt and sugar. Deeply savory bases such as soy sauce and fish sauce complement sugars in different forms, which also caramelize if cooked.

Nuoc Cham

This classic Vietnamese fish sauce-based condiment is extremely versatile. It brings a bouquet of garlic and chile notes along with sweetness and savors to a wide range of dishes. — YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Nuoc Cham, a classic Vietnamese fish sauce-based condiment, in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish — even the laziest snacks — taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: About 3/4 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

1 to 2 bird’s-eye chiles, minced with seeds

Preparation:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar into 1/4 cup water until dissolved. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chiles to combine.

2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Serve as a dipping sauce for fried spring rolls, and as a topping for noodle and rice salads, or grilled meats and fish. Mix with soups, greens, or cooked vegetables to perk them up.

Teriyaki Sauce

This Japanese seasoning normally calls for only sake, soy sauce, and mirin, but the addition of brown sugar in this version gives it gloss and a syrupy texture ideal for drizzling over ingredients that have been cooked already. You can skip the sugar if you want to simmer the sauce with a dish as it cooks and the liquids thicken into a glaze. — GENEVIEVE KO

Yield: About 1 1/4 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sake

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup mirin

3 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar

Preparation:

1. Combine the sake, soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a light boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens and a raft of tan foam bubbles on the surface, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, reheat until warm and runny, and drizzle over grilled, seared, or broiled salmon, sablefish, yellowtail, chicken, pork, steak, tofu, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli, or summer or winter squash. Use as a seasoning to mix into meatballs or patties.

Yangnyeom Sauce

Yangnyeom (pronounced YANG-nyum) means “seasoned” in Korean, and this sauce delivers on its name. Acidic rice vinegar rounds out the fruitiness of ketchup and strawberry jam and the saltiness of soy sauce. — ERIC KIM

Yield: 3/4 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons gochujang

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon strawberry jam

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon finely grated garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the ketchup, gochujang, rice vinegar, maple syrup, strawberry jam, soy sauce, and garlic until well combined. Season to taste with pepper.

2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. This is great as a dipping sauce for any kind of chicken, especially fried, but also brushed over a whole bird after it’s been roasted. Or toss it with crispy tofu or stir-fried vegetables in the last few seconds of cooking.

CHILE

Chiles in all forms — fresh, dried, preserved — add more than just spicy heat to condiments. They also deliver fruity or grassy flavors, crisp textures, and brilliant color. In these homemade mixes, the heat leans toward medium so the chiles’ other attributes can shine.

Sauce Moyo With Mango

Found across West Africa, and especially in Benin, Senegal, and Togo, this chunky blend of fresh tomatoes, red onion, chile, and lime juice are great in hot and humid weather. Here, mango is added for a fruity burst of flavor. — YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Yield: 2 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

8 ounces ripe tomatoes (any size), halved and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 small red onion (3 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced (3/4 cup loosely packed)

1 green Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, halved

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preparation:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, and chile. Pour in the lime juice, toss and add the salt and pepper. Add the mango. Stir, cover, and let sit for at least 10 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

2. Serve over grilled or roasted whole fish, warm grain salads, and grilled or pan-seared meat.

Buffalo Sauce

Nutty browned butter adds a wonderful underlying note to an otherwise straightforward Buffalo sauce, zippy with vinegar and brown sugar. — ERIC KIM

Buffalo sauce in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish — even the laziest snacks — taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: About 1 1/4 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon finely grated garlic

3/4 cup cayenne-based hot sauce, preferably Frank’s RedHot

2 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Kosher salt and black pepper

Preparation:

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue cooking, gently simmering the butter and stirring the pan occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan start to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. It should smell nutty and almost like caramel or butterscotch.

2. Remove from the heat and carefully transfer the very hot browned butter to a large, heatproof mixing bowl. Add the garlic, stirring until the garlic is fragrant, a few seconds. Add the hot sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously until emulsified. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and brown sugar as desired.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. This is an excellent dipping sauce for french fries, roasted cauliflower, and any kind of chicken (grilled, roasted, or fried), or slathered between two slices of toasted bread in a deli sandwich.

Chile Crisp

There’s just enough oil to slick all the crispy bits of chile, onion, and sesame in this version of a spicy Chinese condiment, so it delivers as much crunch as it does salty, sweet, nutty heat. — GENEVIEVE KO

Yield: About 1 1/4 cups

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup dried minced onion

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

1/3 cup finely crushed dried small red chiles or red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon coarsely ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

Preparation:

1. Combine the oil, onion, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion becomes evenly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the chiles, sesame seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns, if using, and sizzle, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Spoon over everything. It adds a big flavor to milder bases, such as eggs, tofu, noodles, rice, vegetables, white fish, lean pork, and chicken breast.

TANGY

Sharp with generous splashes of acidity, such as vinegar and citrus juice, these combinations satisfy the need for a refreshing bite.

Avocado Salsa

Fresh tomatillos brighten this silky avocado salsa, and their acidity helps the blend stay green even after days in the fridge. — GENEVIEVE KO

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed well, and quartered (3 to 4 medium)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh epazote or cilantro

2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped, seeded to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

1 ripe medium Hass avocado, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

1. Combine the tomatillos, onion, epazote, chiles, lime juice, and salt in a food processor or mortar. Process or pound until very smooth. Add the avocado and pulse or pound until smooth. Taste, and add more lime juice and salt, if desired.

2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed against its surface for up to 3 days. Use as a dip for chips, or drizzle over scrambled eggs, tacos, burritos, or tortas. Spoon over grilled seafood, steak, chicken, pork, or vegetables.

Blistered Tomato Dressing

Charring fresh tomatoes deepens their acidic sweetness. When mixed with sherry vinegar and olive oil, they become the perfect summer dressing. — YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Yield: About 2 cups

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium) or 2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 shallot, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

1. Heat a broiler too high. Place the tomatoes on a sheet pan and broil until the skin is charred and peeling for about 6 minutes. Flip and char the other sides until the tomatoes are soft and begin to release some of their moisture, about 5 minutes. If using cherry tomatoes, blister without turning until the tomatoes char, collapse, and release their moisture, about 10 minutes.

2. When the whole tomatoes are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a board and coarsely chop. (Skip this step if you used cherry tomatoes.) Transfer the tomatoes with their juices to a medium bowl. Add the shallot, sherry vinegar, red-pepper flakes, if using, and salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil. Taste and add more vinegar and salt if necessary.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Serve as a dressing over cooked leafy greens, green salads, grain salads, roasted or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish.

Pyaz Ka Laccha

This floppy, lightly pickled onions are a traditional accompaniment to grilled and tandoor foods throughout India and the rest of South Asia. Seasoned with salt and brightened with lemon juice, this recipe, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, uses a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne for an earthy, nuanced flavor. — MELISSA CLARK

Pyaz Ka Laccha, which are lightly pickled onions that are a traditional accompaniment to grilled and tandoor foods throughout India and the rest of South Asia, in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish — even the laziest snacks — taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: 2 cups

Total time: 10 minutes, plus 45 minutes’ marinating

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, preferably a sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, plus more to taste

Preparation:

1. Put onions in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes. (This removes some of the onion’s bite, but you can skip this step if you’d like a stronger onion flavor.)

2. Drain onions and thoroughly pat dry. Return onions to the bowl and stir in lemon juice, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld before serving. Taste and add more salt, lemon, and spices, if you like.

3. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Serve alongside grilled or roasted meats and fish; stuff into sandwiches, especially grilled cheese or tuna salad; use as a topping for pizza, burgers, and hot dogs; scramble into eggs; toss into salads, especially starchy grain and potato salads.

Wasabi-Soy Vinaigrette

Reminiscent of the wasabi-tinged soy sauce you might have with a California roll, this all-purpose salad dressing includes tart rice vinegar and nutty sesame oil. The wasabi paste adds moments of nose-clearing excitement and can be scaled down or up. — ERIC KIM

Yield: 1/2 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large garlic cloves, finely grated

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste, plus more to taste

Preparation:

1. In a small liquid measuring cup or a glass jar with a tightfitting lid, combine 1/4 cup water, the garlic, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and wasabi paste. Whisk to combine, or, if using a jar, seal tightly and shake vigorously until emulsified. Taste and add more wasabi if you like; the wasabi flavor will intensify as the vinaigrette sits.

2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. This tastes great with any green salad, of course, but also with raw, crunchy vegetables, like cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and thinly sliced asparagus.

CREAMY

Mayonnaise may be one of the greatest condiments of all time. Here, it’s the tasty shortcut to rich dump-and-stir sauces.

Thousand Island Dressing

Stirring a little chile paste into an otherwise classic formula tone down the sweetness slightly and adds a very gentle bite. — MELISSA CLARK

Thousand Island dressing in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish — even the laziest snacks — taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: 1 3/4 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

3 1/2 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 tablespoons chile paste, such as Sriracha, plus more to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons sweet relish

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

Pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

Preparation:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Taste and add more salt, vinegar, and chile paste, if needed. Use sauce immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

2. Use as a salad dressing for sturdy, juicy greens, like an iceberg wedge or shredded cabbage, or instead of straight mayonnaise in potato salad, egg salad, or tuna salad. Use it to top hard-cooked eggs, hot dogs, or avocados. Spread in sandwiches, especially a tomato sandwich or a BLT.

Tartar Sauce

Packed with crunchy, sharp zings of onion, pickle, and savory capers, this sauce delivers boldness. Dill, parsley, or a combination brings freshness. — GENEVIEVE KO

Yield: About 1 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickle

2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

2 teaspoons capers, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or parsley (optional)

Preparation:

1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, pickle, onion, capers, lemon juice, mustard, and dill, if using. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

2. Use as a dip for fried fish or other seafood, fries, chips, pita chips, and crudités. Mix into tuna, egg, or potato salad, or spread onto bread for tuna, egg, or chicken salad sandwiches, as well as for roast beef and fried chicken or fish sandwiches, and salmon burgers.

Fry Sauce

Variations of fry sauce exist all over the world. This version is similar to the one found in Puerto Rico, where it is called mayokétchup. A garlicky all-purpose flavor enhancer, it is, as its name suggests, ideal for dipping crunchy fried things. — ERIC KIM

Yield: 1 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt and black pepper

Preparation:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, garlic powder and sugar until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. This tastes great with tostones, french fries, slathered on a burger, or even inside a grilled cheese.

SWEET

Breakfast, brunch, and dessert feel extra special with from-scratch sauces, even when served alongside bakery-bought goods and freezer-aisle ice cream. And nothing beats freshly whipped cream.

Blueberry Syrup

Run through with plump berries, this compote-meets-syrup mix gets a pair of natural sweeteners: fresh berries, which cook down with only lemon juice to concentrate their summery sweetness, and earthy maple syrup, which lends depth. — GENEVIEVE KO

Yield: About 1 1/4 cups

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups blueberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Preparation:

1. Combine 1 cup blueberries and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until some berries begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until about half the berries have burst and the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in 1/3 cup syrup for a compote consistency and 1/2 cup for a thinner sauce. Add the remaining 1 cup blueberries, raise the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and some whole berries remain about 5 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

3. Reheat until warm to spoon over pancakes, waffles, French toast, scones, oatmeal, or other hot breakfast treats, or grilled pork, chicken, or steak. Serve cold over yogurt, ice cream, sorbet, pudding, custard, cheesecake, or ricotta toast.

Fruit Caramel

A caramel sauce base is enlivened by ripe — or even slightly overripe — fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, and stone fruit. This is an excellent way to add a deeper sweetness and a hint of the season to your favorite desserts. — YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Yield: About 1 cup

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

4 ounces fresh or frozen fruit, peeled if necessary, such as bananas, peaches or berries, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (3/4 cup)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

1/4 cup heavy cream

Preparation:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until it all melts into a light gold syrup, 5 to 6 minutes. Continue to cook to a golden brown color, about 1 minute more. Carefully add the fruit all at once and reduce the heat to medium-low. The hot syrup may bubble and become foamy.

2. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until any hard clumps of caramel dissolve and the fruit pieces soften and break down, about 4 minutes. Stir in the salt and heavy cream until there are no white streaks then remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and use immediately, or cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

3. Serve warm as a topping for ice cream, pies or tarts, or use as a caramel filling for layered cake or trifles. If cold, reheat gently in a small saucepan over low heat.

Whipped Cream

Whipping cream in the summertime, or in a hot kitchen, doesn’t require a background in thermodynamics. Still, there are tricks in this recipe essential to summer prep that might be otherwise skipped in colder seasons. Follow them for an airy, silky result. — YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Yield: 2 cups

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

1. Chill a large, wide stainless steel mixing bowl in the refrigerator or freezer. Once the bowl is very cold, add the cream, sugar, and vanilla, and use a whisk to beat the ingredients until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. You can use an electric hand mixer but whip slowly on a medium-low speed only until thickened. To prevent overwhipping, finish whisking by hand until soft peaks form.

2. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours until ready to use. Serve whipped cream alongside cake or pie or as a topping for ice cream, puddings, and trifles.

Rhubarb Sauce

This jewel-bright glaze has as many uses as a Swiss Army knife. With this recipe, you get two goodies in one: Besides the sauce, you end up with flavorful strained fruit. You can drizzle the sauce or ladle the fruit onto both desserts and savory dishes. — ERIC KIM

Rhubarb sauce in New York on July 1, 2021. Quick from-scratch condiments, dressings, toppings, and seasonings to make every dish — even the laziest snacks — taste special. Food Stylist: Victoria Granof. (Ryan Liebe/The New York Times)

Yield: 1 cup

Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest, and 2 to 3 tablespoons juice (from 1 large lemon)

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (optional)

Preparation:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a roasting pan or large, shallow Dutch oven, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla bean (if using) and 2 1/2 cups water. Using clean hands, gently move the rhubarb around to disperse the ingredients. Roast until the rhubarb softens, the sugar dissolves and the water is pink, about 1 hour.

2. Let the pan cool slightly before carefully straining the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl. You should have about 2 1/2 cups rhubarb syrup. Transfer the roasted rhubarb to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Pour the syrup back into the pan.

3. On the stovetop over high heat, bring the syrup to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and continue boiling, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the syrup has reduced by a little more than half, 10 to 12 minutes. Watch carefully so that the hot syrup doesn’t boil over the sides of the pan. (You should have about 1 cup sauce.)

4. Use the sauce immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. This tastes so good over vanilla ice cream, stirred into a glass of iced water for something reminiscent of pink lemonade or iced coffee for a high note, mixed into a pan sauce for duck breasts, or drizzled over any kind of whipped cream, pavlova or Eton mess-style dessert. The strained fruit tastes wonderful over yogurt.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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