Three Plant-Based Sauces to Make at Home

Cooking Techniques with Olive OilMary Papoulias-Platis is a Plant-Based Culinary Chef and will soon be the Culinary Director for the future N40 Culinary Center at the North 40 Urban Farm. Mary also keeps busy as a culinary teacher, cookbook author, and recipe developer. She recently completed her first book, Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil. Mary teaches, speaks, and writes about the Greek lifestyle and diet, and teaches olive oil tasting, having completed the program at U.C Davis as a certified “Olive Oil Taster.” Author and creator of the long-standing cooking blog, California Greek Girl, you can also find Mary on Facebook and Twitter.

Three Plant-Based, Vegan Sauces

You  must be asking yourself the question, what is a plant-based sauce? Basically, they are a new form of uncooked sauces for those who are following a plant-based diet, which may include vegetarian, vegan, or the raw cuisine.

The purpose of any sauce is to improve the flavor profile of a dish. A sauce generally is eaten in small amounts, and needs a concentrated flavor. A balanced sauce offers stimulation to the senses, so it’s a good idea to check and adjust the flavors before serving.

It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the need to learn more about the plant-based diet to expand my knowledge in new cuisines and hopefully along the way sharpen my cooking skills. One takeaway from this culinary journey was the importance of knowing your sauces and how to create new versions.

Here, I have chosen three you can easily incorporate into your daily routine and enhance your plant-based dishes. Take these three sauces and make them your own by adding ethnic spices, various oils, citrus, and herbs to create your own unique combinations.

Here are a few tips when shopping for ingredients.

  • Browse the ethnic section of your market or a nearby spice shop for new ingredients.
  • Go back to grinding your own spices in a mortar and pestle. It’s a worthwhile experience.
  • Buy good quality nuts and in small amounts. Nuts go rancid quickly.
  • Make your own nut milks, vegetable broths, and mushroom broth to add to your sauces.

Use these sauces as a guideline and have fun creating new versions!

Three Plant-Based Vegan Sauces to Make at Home

Left to Right: Raw Tomato Sauce, Miso Sauce/Dressing, Basic Sour Cream

Basic Sour Cream Sauce
Recipe Type: Condiment
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½-3/4 cup water as needed
  • 1½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  1. Place the cashews into a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for a few hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews. In a blender add the cashews, lemon juice, water, vinegar and blend until smooth. Add more water if needed. Taste and adjust with salt.

Raw Tomato Sauce
Recipe Type: Sauce
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
  • ⅓ cup soaked sun-dried tomatoes (reserve water)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon chile flakes
  • 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Reserved water or water
  • 1½ cups red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup apple, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil torn into pieces
  1. In a blender, add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, chile flakes, olive oil and water or reserved water and blend until smooth. Add the bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, apples, and blend until smooth.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and gently pulse a few times.

Miso Sauce/Dressing
Recipe Type: Dressing
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
  • 1¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive or flax oil
  • ½ cup sweet white miso
  • pinch of salt
  1. In a bowl whisk the miso, oil, orange juice and salt together until smooth. Add more juice if needed.
For Thai Flavor: Add 1½ tablespoons fresh minced ginger, ½ minced chili, 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, 2 tablespoons fresh mint.

For Asian Flavor: Add 2 tablespoons tamari, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger.


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