Organic Sense

Simple Creamy Sauces

by Terese Allen, Food Editor

return to Sauce Savvy

Cream sauces are known for their signature smoothness and the ability to turn a regular meal into something special. They’re also often known for requiring a goodly amount of time, culinary expertise and, well, cream. The good news here is that when you’re in need of a lighter cream-style sauce, one that comes together quickly and doesn’t require a chef’s certificate, the options are many.

A moderate amount of half-and-half or heavy cream can go a long way in smoothing or softening a vegetable-based sauce and giving it unctuous mouth-feel. And the beauty of this approach is that all you have to do is add cream and stir. Take a simple stove-top tomato sauce, for example: Once it is prepared or heated, stir in half-and-half and blue cheese crumbles and toss with pasta…and then sit down to a gourmet meal.

Another way to achieve a simple creamy sauce is not to use cream at all. In recent decades, Americans have come to appreciate the sauce-making (and health-giving) benefits of yogurt. While it can be used to help thicken some hot sauces, yogurt’s cool tanginess is ideal as a base for cold sauces, especially ones that complement fish and chicken, and in Middle Eastern and Indian recipes.

Yogurt ranges in consistency; some, like strained Greek-style yogurt, are quite thick and most suitable for dips. Organic Valley’s Plain Yogurt has a lighter, pourable texture that works well as a base for savory cold sauce sauces, such as the Greek classic called tsatsiki. Flavored with exotic curry spices and brought to room temperature, it can also be used for pan-seared scallops or sautéed chicken breasts.

And what about dairy-free diners? They, too, can enjoy a simple creamy sauce, by blending soy milk or soy creamer with pureed fruits or vegetables. The slightly sweet, vanilla flavor of many soy milks is particularly suited to fruit preparations and desserts (as are flavored yogurts such as Organic Valley’s Vanilla Yogurt).

For best results, use Organic Valley’s Unsweetened or Original Soy, or Original Soy Creamer when preparing savory sauces, such as the béchamel-based Vegan Broccoli Gratin. Here are more tips when preparing savory soy-based sauces:

  • If the sauce is going to be heated, take care not to boil it, nor to let it simmer longer than a few minutes. Add it at the end of the cooking time and then turn down the heat.
  • Acidic foods like lemon and vinegar can make soy milk curdle, so use these ingredients sparingly or add them to sauce where a little “texture” will be welcome.
  • Soy milk is darker than dairy milk, but its pale beige color blends wonderfully in sauces with deep-hued ingredients like carrots, broccoli, or tomatoes.

Recipes

Penne with Tomato Tarragon Blue Cheese Sauce - Organic Valley Half & Half smoothes the sauce and mellows the acidity of the tomatoes.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Spinach and Curry Yogurt Sauce – A fragrant, no-cook sauce is perfect for scallops, but try it, too, on omelets, sautéed chicken breasts or sliced, fresh tomatoes.

Tsatsiki – This iconic Greek combination of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and dill or mint is a cross between a condiment, a dip, a dressing and a sauce.

Pineapple Cream Sauce (Non-Dairy) – An utterly simple sauce to serve with a fresh fruit platter or a bowl of fruit salad.

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