Friday, July 30, 2010

rough sauces

I'm talking about stuff that's in between a sauce and a dip. Not silky smooth, but retaining some texture from the ingredients. Something you can use cold, say by spreading it on good bread, using it as salad dressing, or accompanying a main dish. Or you can use hot, maybe smothering a chicken, chickpeas, or scallops, and gently simmering it all together.

I started thinking about this when I realized that I was making a lot of them, especially in the summer. Some of them are traditional: Pesto and gremolata from Italy, persillade from France, chimichurri from Argentina, muhammara and humus from all over the Middle East, and mint chutney from India (along with a million other delicious chutneys). There must be a name for that kind of thing. And if there's no name for it, maybe it's because it's not seen as a unified category across cultures. Some of these are named according to their functions, e.g. dip, chutney, relish, etc. But I think what's fun is to use them in different ways and not to pin them down to one function. So please, send me suggestions for a name. In the meantime, I'll use 'rough sauce', though I'm not happy with it.

My first rough sauce that I blogged about was muhammara. A couple of days ago I made another one to cook chicken in, because I'm not crazy about the taste of chicken and I need to mask it. Didn't write about it because I couldn't take any pictures. It'll definitely be repeated, and I'll show you then. And last night, I made this:

cucumber, feta, mango rough sauce

I wanted to try out this cold cucumber soup with feta recipe from epicurious, originally from Bon Appétit. But once I started, I realized that 1) I didn't have any fresh herbs at home, 2) felt like something more solid than cold soup, 3) had a mango ready to be eaten, and as usual
4) wanted to have fun.

  • one cucumber (long and relatively seedless)
  • a very small chunk of red onion
  • feta cheese (lots - I don't know how much)
  • a quarter of a mango (didn't want it too sweet)
  • salt
  • red pepper
Put it all in the food processor, and whirled it until it was a consistency I liked. Very quick and very refreshing. It was my lunch today, on a toasted whole wheat tortilla, with tomatoes:

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