feeling saucy: three summer sauces

Craig DeSilva
June 18, 2024

A sauce can make or break a meal. Try these flavorful sauces to add flavor to a variety of dishes – from meats to vegetables. You can even use it as a dip or spread on crackers or toast.

This salsa romesco is a Spanish roasted red pepper sauce that originated in Catalan. Romesco sauce was traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. But using a food processor or blender is faster and easier. Using jarred roasted red peppers also cuts down on the prep time. 


  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, pulse bell pepper, garlic, walnuts, tomato puree, and parsley until finely chopped. Add vinegar, paprika, and cayenne pepper and pulse a few more times.

With motor running, slowly pour in olive oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 1½ cups.

Make ahead: Romesco sauce can be made one week ahead and refrigerated in an air-tight container. You can also freeze for up to six months.

Pesto can be made from a variety of ingredients such as carrot tops and even avocado and cashews. Here, we keep it traditional using basil – the same way it was first made in Genoa, Italy, during the 16th century. Use the freshest basil you can find in the supermarket or farmers market. Or better yet, grow basil yourself at home. How’s that for garden to table?


  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed (about 3 bunches)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper

Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once halfway through, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to food processor and let cool.

Add cheese and garlic cloves to food processor. Pulse until finely grated, about 1 minute. Add basil leaves and continue processing. With the processor running, add olive oil in a slow and steady stream. Blend until pesto is smooth with some flecks of green, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 1½ cups.

Make ahead: Pesto can be made a day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. You can also freeze for up to three months. Or freeze in small portions and thaw only what you need.

Before storing or freezing, top with a thin layer of olive oil to help prevent browning caused by oxidation.

This elegant, silky sauce is a brunch staple for eggs Benedict. But it can fancy up any steamed vegetable, particularly asparagus. It’s also excellent with poached chicken and seafood like salmon, scallops, and lobster. The sauce is rich, so a little goes a long way. As for the lemons – use the real thing and juice it yourself.


  • 3 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 1½ Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1½ Tbsp. water
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted 

Place egg yolks in a tall narrow container that will fit a hand blender stick. Add lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and salt. Blend briefly to combine.

With the blender stick on high, slowly pour the butter in a thin stream. Moving the stick up and down, blend for about 1 minute until the sauce has a thick, creamy consistency.

Sauce should be smooth and pale yellow. If too thick, mix in warm tap water 1 teaspoon at a time until you achieve the desired consistency.

Makes about 1¼ cups (enough for eight eggs Benedicts).

Best when used immediately or keep warm until ready to use. 

Share this article

By commenting, you agree to Island Scene's Terms of Use.