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The 3-ingredient sauce combinations dietitians turn to for never (ever!) boring vegetables

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsApril 28, 2020

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There was a time when I hated veggies—particularly those of the steamed, soggy variety. Back then, I didn’t know that the make-or-break of every broccoli, eggplant, and cauliflower dish is what you drizzle on top of it. And when it comes to easy sauces for vegetables that make their nutrients and fiber anything but bland, you can’t do much better than the “3-cup method” to make easy sauces for vegetables.

A spin on the traditional Taipei dish “three-cup chicken,” the meal involves enlisting a trio of liquid ingredients (sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine) for flavorful and fast dinners. While the original is worth trying (like, for sure), I asked Kate Jenkins, MScN, blogger and home chef behind VeguKate, and Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, to dream up their own 3-cup inspired recipes using Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian-inspired cuisines. (Spoiler: They didn’t disappoint.)

5 easy sauces for vegetables that make even the soggiest broccoli taste more flavorful

1. Tahini + lemon juice + garlic

For this Mediterranean-inspired recipe, blend together 1/2 cup tahini, the juice of two small lemons, and one to two cloves of garlic in a high-speed blender or food processor. Drizzle over roasted vegetables or grain bowls. “Tahini is an amazing source of good-for-you fats as well as nutrients—such as manganese and B vitamins— and antioxidants, specifically lignans,” says Jenkins. “Consumption of lignans, which are also found in flax, pumpkin, sunflower, and poppy seeds, may prevent certain chronic diseases, such as certain types of cancers and cardiovascular disease, according to a 2019 study.”

2. Olive oil + balsamic vinegar + red wine vinegar

To whip up this Italian inspired sauce (which tastes just divine on zucchini, tomatoes, pasta, and more), Beckerman says to combine two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic, and two tablespoons of red wine vinegar with a nice crank of black pepper.

Vinegars, argues Beckerman, are highly underrated in the nutrition world. “I’m particularly into the vinegars here not just because there is no added sugar but because vinegar is loaded with antioxidants and even probiotics that help with both gut health and immune protection,” she says.

3. Peanut butter + coconut aminos + Fresh ginger

My one true love in life is peanut sauce, and this one from Jenkins is almost too good. Blend together 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, three to four tablespoons of coconut aminos, and a one-inch nob of fresh, peeled ginger. Add in a splash of water to thin, if necessary.

“Creamy, nutty, and perfect for all your favorite Asian-inspired dishes, this sauce is made for dipping fresh spring rolls loaded with crunchy veggies and avocado. Ginger is loaded with nutritious properties including anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects,” says Jenkins. “Peanut butter is another wonderful source of healthy fats to keep blood sugar levels stable and balanced.”

4. olive oil + avocado oil + apple cider vinegar

Ready for a Greek-inspired dressing to zest up your grain bowls? Beckerman’s got you. This recipe combines 1/4 cup of olive oil, two tablespoons of avocado oil, and three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one teaspoon of honey, one teaspoon of finely chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

“The bright hues from turmeric make the greens or the grains come alive with color, which helps boost endorphins, triggering positive moods and good vibes all around. It’s also a great dressing because the black pepper further activates the healing and calming superpowers of turmeric thanks to their symbiotic chemical compounds, that let’s just say, get along really well in the body,” says Beckerman.

5. Roasted red peppers + almonds + lemon juice

“Add this sauce to everything! I love it on grain bowls, pizza, wraps, grilled veggies, and grilled chicken, and drizzled into hummus,” says Jenkins. “This flavorful combination of roasted red peppers, almonds, and lemon juice is simply amazing—and wonderful for balancing blood sugar in your meals thanks to the perfect combination of good fats, fiber, and protein!” You’ll also get a ton of antioxidants from those pretty red peppers.

To make this one, simply blend together one jar drained roasted red peppers, 1/2 cup raw almonds, and the juice of one lemon in a food processor or high-speed blender.

The easiest ever stir-fry recipe, right this way:

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