Everybody needs a universal sauce for drizzling over roasted vegetables, tossing with finely chopped kale, or marinating meat. This creamy sauce is such a workhorse in my kitchen, I thought it deserved its own recipe page.
When people see and taste this pale yellow sauce, they often assume it contains dairy or that it’s complicated to make. That’s the simple science of an emulsion. It’s just garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes whipped into submission.
Since I’ve been making this sauce for a decade, I often just make it to taste. Regardless of the exact number of garlic cloves you use, I’ve found that the absolute best way to prepare it is in the blender after you’ve really mashed or chopped the garlic. Otherwise, the garlic has a knack for avoiding the blender blades, and then you end up with a slightly less creamy sauce (and we can’t have that).
What I love about this particular sauce is the balance of acidity, heat, and richness. It’s acidic enough to compliment chopped kale and delicate enough to finish fresh seafood (thank you lemon, I worship you). It’s especially tasty drizzled over roasted broccoli or as a marinade for roasted lamb ribs.
What’s an emulsion and how does it work?
An emulsion is where you force two ingredients to combine that normally don’t. Often, an emulsion is the unification of oil and water-based substances. Mayonnaise, hollandaise, and salad dressings are all emulsions of fat and acid. In this case, we use garlic and a blender to bind olive oil and lemon juice for a luxuriously creamy, smooth texture. It may look like it contains dairy, but that’s the power of an emulsion.
Making and Storing Salad Dressing
You can blend this sauce ahead and refrigerate for about 1 week. Separation is normal – just give it a good shake before using. If the olive oil solidifies in the fridge, you can run the container under warm water or let it sit on the counter for a bit to melt. Squeeze bottles are a convenient storage solution because you can easily drizzle and shake right out of the fridge.
Recipes that Use This Lemon Garlic Sauce
There’s so much potential for this sauce, and I can’t wait to see how you end up using it.
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Essential Lemon Garlic Sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, from 2 large lemons or 4 small
- 2 large cloves garlic, smashed into a paste or roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil, extra virgin
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse on high for up to 1 minutes until no garlic chunks remain and the dressing is very smooth and pale yellow. Use at room temperature or store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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