Early summer proves the perfect time to cook a batch of homemade tomato ketchup, whirl up fresh mayonnaise and enhance everything with fresh herbs.
This summer, I am customizing my condiment selection to keep the weekly burgers (meat, poultry and veg variations) interesting. These jars of goodness also will be useful in salads made from grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs destined for backyard picnics or lakefront lunches.
I’ve never been a big fan of commercial ketchup, which is why I enjoy whipping up a smoky version made with bacon and smoked paprika. Ripe, plum tomatoes cook down into a sweet tenderness, and a blitz in the blender renders them into a smooth sauce. You’ll need to allow some cooking time on a cool day. The ketchup will last several weeks and works wonderfully on sliced brisket and smoked turkey.
I love seasoned mayonnaise spread on BLT sandwiches, smeared over fish before broiling and stirred into main-course salads such as chicken and tuna salad. Here, pasteurized eggs will help with food safety issues. Season the lemony mayo with fresh herbs, anchovy or capers. Or use lime rind and lime juice for a version that’s excellent as a dunking sauce for cooked shrimp.
Why buy flavored mustards when you can turn an inexpensive Dijon into something extraordinary? Add Kalamata olive puree and other goodies for a spread you will love straight from the jar. Use it for a unique spin on grilled cheese sandwiches or as a smear for grilled fish or chicken breast.
I’ve worked and traveled frequently in Mexico for more than two decades. Hands-down, my favorite condiment might be Veracruz’s salsa macha — a chile, garlic and nut combination based in oil. Keep a jar on hand to ladle onto just about everything, from the morning’s fried eggs to an afternoon hummus snack to the evening’s grilled steak entrée. The possibilities for this salsa are endless. It also works on grilled eggplant, fish, chicken, steamed vegetables, cooked grains and small pastas. For a revelation, you can also try it on sliced tomatoes with a splash of lime or balsamic.
A note of caution with all condiments: Be careful not to double-dip serving spoons. Use a clean spoon each time.
Fresh Tomato and Bacon Ketchup
This is nothing like the mass-produced stuff you’re used to — and that’s a good thing. When fresh tomatoes and bacon combine, they create a condiment so enticing and special you are not going to want to relegate it to burgers and hot dogs alone.
Lemony Mayonnaise With Variations
Making your own mayo and aioli is so fresh and easy, you may just stop reaching for the jar. The best part is how endlessly customizable it is. Blend in anchovies for a blast of umami, lime zest for zing, fresh herbs for a woodsy flavor and anything else you like.
Summer Mustard With All the Goodies
This recipe starts with storebought dijon mustard, but by the time you’re done with it — all of 10 minutes later — it will be so bespoke no one will know you started with an inexpensive, boring base. Talk about a blank canvas. With olives, chives, capers and pickled hot peppers mixed in, this summer mustard recipe will amp up everything you put it on this summer.
Peanutty Salsa Macha
If you’ve never experienced the nutty goodness that is Mexican salsa macha, then you’ve been missing out. This condiment will be your new best friend. The mix of dried chiles plus chipotle in adobo, the combo of peanuts and pecans, the tang of vinegar, a touch of garlic and herbs plus plenty of olive oil make this unbelievable for dipping and topping.