Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frugan: Saucy Saucy

Sesame Mint Chutney

When you are watching both your waistline and your budget, sometimes it is hard to get enough flavor in your food. There are endless varieties of condiments available at the store or online, but they are pricey and often full of ingredients that are less than wholesome.  I am going to share two simple recipes that are full of flavor. You might notice that I am liberal with the olive oil, but it is necessary for both flavor and as a preservative. You will use less than a tablespoon to flavor your food, so it still fits in nicely with my 400 calorie mini meals. 

I use mint in our first sauce. It's important that you wash and dry the mint well before use.
I like to fill up a bowl of water, and gently swish the mint around, letting the dirt fall to the bottom naturally. I lift the mint and place it on a dish towel to dry. Just make sure you don't bruise the herb. It will turn brown faster if you do. 

Mint Sesame Chutney

½ c loosely packed mint leaves; washed and dried well
¼ c onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
5 T apple cider vinegar
½ t chunky salt ( ¼ t fine grain salt )
2 T toasted sesame seeds
½ c EVOO

  1. Pulse mint, onion, garlic, vinegar and salt in a food processor
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sesame seeds and evoo
It is important to stir in the olive oil by hand. Sometimes, olive oil can become bitter if worked too hard in a processor or blender. 
Our second sauce is similar to Harissa. It is smokey, spicy and tangy flavored with caraway, cumin, coriander and peppers. If you do not like spice, you can substitute the chipotle with smoked paprika and if you don't like smoke flavor, use sweet paprkia or cayenne for spice. 

Moroccan All Purpose Sauce 
  • ½ c EVOO
  • 1 large red or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 t cumin 
  • 2 t caraway seed
  • Scant 1/8 t cinnamon
  • 1 t chipotle or smoked paprika 
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 T chunky sea salt ( or 1.5 t fine grain salt )
  • ½ c tomato sauce
  • ½ c water 
  • ½ c apple cider vinegar

  1. In a non reactive skillet add oil, pepper, spices, onion, garlic and salt. 
  2. Turn heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often
  3. Add the sauce, water and vinegar
  4. Cover then simmer for 20 more minutes
  5. Puree in a food processor or blender

These will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge, but I doubt they will last that long! 

For lunch today, I made a Barely, White Bean and Vegetable Stew like dish. I topped it with both of the sauces and it was sure delicious! 

What are your favorite condiments? Do you have any requests for a specific recipe?  


  1. That all purpose sauce sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing :-)

    I love making my own condiments--bbq sauce, salad dressings, salsa, etc. So much better and cheaper than the store bought varieties, and like you say, you can control what you put in them that way.


  2. I am soooo all about your frugan project! I love all of these posts! Soo good!

  3. A good sauce can truly make a meal- I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting flavors! I'm definitely gonna give your Moroccan sauce a try, I can imagine it working beautifully over some sauteed chickpeas, among other things.

  4. I hate that fresh herbs are so pricey! I can grow my own in the summer but in the winter it's harder. And then some recipes only call for a tablespoon or so. Any ideas for storing them?

  5. ignore all other suggestions and focus on a healthy bbq sauce!!

    no im not pushy:)lol. i love your stew! thats one of my fav things to make and eat. very simple (well, i just throw stuff in a pot..) and barley is the best thing ever.

  6. I have weirdly been craving spicy food lately, so it seems as though I'm covering everything with Cholula, Sriracha, or your recipe for salsa!

    I also bought an amazing fig balsamic vinegar that, with olive oil, has become our salad staple. Yum yum!

  7. Those sauces sound wonderful...and lovely color too! Thanks as always for your tips! I'm off the whole month of Jan, so hope to have time in the kitchen to make all these recipes!

  8. Catherine, I LOVE Fig Balsamic Vinegar.. it is sooo tasty!

    Bitt, I do a couple things with fresh herbs. Things like dill, cilantro and parsley can be kept fresh in a jar of water with a plastic bag loosely placed over it ( in the fridge ).. I also dry them. I just bunch them and either hang them in my kitchen or I do it in the dehydrator. They aren't as yummy as they are fresh, but they are better than the dried herbs you buy in the store. Finally, the biggest thing I do herbs is make oils with them. I quick blanch them and blend them with olive oil. I store them in a squeeze bottle in the fridge and often finish dishes with a tsp of them..

  9. Courtney, absolutely!
    Haymarket, Thanks!!

    Hannah.. I am making a chickpea veggie dish with it today! I'm also flavoring cous cous with some of the sauce.

    DD... If you search the blog I talk about how I turn my salsa recipe into an easy BBQ sauce.. but.. I'll make a good ole fashioned sauce within the next few weeks. I need to plan to fit some blackstrap molasses into my budget and we're good to go!

  10. I love mint! Your sauces look divine!