The New Mother Sauces

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You know what's a great way to "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" this Nutrition Month? Sauces! Sauces add bright flavors and great textures to a wide variety of dishes. But… where to begin?

Chef Escoffier was the founder of classic French cuisine. One of his principles in sauce making is that there are five mother sauces from which all other sauces are made. The theory behind the mother sauces is that you don't need to follow an endless number of recipes to make all the sauces you need. Instead, you can learn these five and then create variations accordingly.

The trouble with these mother sauces is that they are often high in fat, especially saturated fat. They can also be pretty complex, especially for beginner cooks. But the idea of improving flavor with a base set of recipes is appealing... So, how can you boost the flavor of dishes without adding heavy and complex sauces?

The answer is simple.

After 20 years of recipe development, I have created my own list of 7 essential healthful sauces that are easy to prepare, low in fat, and very delicious. They are...

  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Chutney
  • Roasted vegetable puree
  • Broth
  • Pan sauce
  • Cream sauce
  • Pesto or herb rubs

These are critical if you want to create easy, healthful meals that taste great. Each sauce offers a fun way to maximize flavor for many different dishes.

Want to try one? Here's my favorite...

Meet a new mother sauce!Pico de Gallo (Mild Salsa)


  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cored, halved, seeds removed, and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, sliced thin
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice


  • Combine everything in a large bowl, adding lime juice to taste.
  • Serve fresh or refrigerate for later.

This sauce is perfect as a dip for chips or fresh vegetables, but there's so much more it can do. Use a spoonful to top fresh poached or grilled fish, toss it in with a green salad, or make it a bed for fresh roasted vegetables. This simple sauce will give a flavor boost to just about any dish.

How will YOU use it?

Recipes for the other healthful mother sauces are available in the new book, Home Run Cooking. Get your copy today!

By Judy Doherty, PC II

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