In the summer when fruits, vegetables and herbs are in abundance, homemade sauces and dressings made from these ingredients are simply delicious drizzled over just about anything.

When vegetables are puréed in a blender or food processor with some additional ingredients, they add bright flavor, creamy body and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your salad bowl of leafy greens.

But don’t stop there, serve homemade no-cook sauces over grilled beef, chicken, pork or seafood, tossed with beans or pasta, drizzled over grilled vegetables or over cooked grain salads.

No-cook sauces use up produce, spice up summer foods and save time and energy during the hot summer months. Not only do herbs and vegetables taste great when eaten fresh, they’re also healthier since there’s no heat or water to dilute their nutrients.

Aside from the health benefits, no-cook sauces also eliminate the use of unhealthy fats, like butter and cream. No-cook sauces mean limited oven and stove use, which helps keep the kitchen and house cooler. The best part of no-cook sauces, though, is the aroma of fresh chopped herbs and vegetables that fills the kitchen and lingers in the air as these sauces rest a bit before being used.

During the summertime, it is great to serve pasta dishes with raw sauces; the Italians call them “pasta con salsa a crudo”. With raw sauces, there’s no cooking beyond boiling the pasta—the only heat applied to the sauce is the gentle warmth from the cooked pasta. Children usually love these dishes and they’re fast and easy to prepare. Keep your pantry well stocked with high-quality condiments (see below), check out what looks good at the market and you’ve got dinner for family or guests at a moment’s notice.

You’ll always be able to whip up easy, fast pastas if you keep ingredients like these on hand:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • Capers
  • Black and green olives
  • Anchovies
  • Dried chiles
  • Sardines
  • Canned tuna
  • Pine nuts
  • Almonds
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Fennel seeds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Dried pasta of various shapes and sizes

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This sauce is perfect for burgers, chicken, pasta and sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 3 roasted red bell peppers from a large jar or homemade
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 sun-dried packed in oil, drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Place garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add roasted peppers and remaining ingredients; puree until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 large fresh vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Chop tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Add garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Toss gently.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 2 to 4 hours

When ripe tomatoes sit at room temperature, they get juicier and juicier.

Toss this sauce with pasta or spoon it over grilled chicken, beef or vegetables.

Creamy Zucchini Dressing with Tahini and Lemon

This tart sauce perfectly dresses up grilled fish or vegetables and makes a tasty dressing for a tossed green salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (paste made from ground sesame seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

Easy No-Cook Homemade Barbecue Sauce

No cooking – just brush on your grilled meats or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pineapple Juice

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for later. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Cucumber-Dill Sauce

Use this sauce with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp, baked potatoes or veggie burgers.

Makes: 4 cups

In a medium bowl, combine:

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium red onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1/2 cup finely minced fresh dill
  • 4 tablespoons Champagne or white-wine vinegar
  • A few drops of Tabasco
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When ready to serve:

Stir in 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Sauce can be stored, refrigerated, up to 3 days.

Fresh Mango-Mint Chutney

Try it with: grilled tofu, pork or tuna

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup julienned fresh mint, according to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1/2 hot red pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Directions:

Let rest at least 1 hour at room temperature. Adjust seasoning, if needed and serve.

Chutney can be stored, refrigerated, for 3 days, but it is best if consumed the same day it is made.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Experiment by trying different vinegars and mustards to perfect your blend. A mild honey such as clover or orange blossom works best in this recipe. Toss dressing with salad greens or serve as a dipping sauce for chicken, fried mozzarella sticks or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Whisk the mayonnaise with the olive oil to combine. Whisk in remaining ingredients.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at once or chill in a covered container for up to 5 days.

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