Protein, fat and vegetables are the staples of most of the current low carb and ketogenic diets. A perfect way to enhance these often bland diet options is by using a robust spice or sauce. Harissa, Romesco or Chimichurri are three sauces that are fairly easy to make and can result in a huge difference in the flavor or your meals, whether you are low carb or not!

Low carb zucchini and shrimp fritters with sides of Romesco and Harissa sauces
Low carb zucchini fritters with sides of Romesco and Harissa sauces
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Why These Particular Sauces Work So Well with Savory Dishes

If you are not used to cooking whole foods, the protein world of a low carb diet can get monotonous very quickly.  

If you don’t follow a low carb diet, but want to explore the world of enhancing flavor with robust, unique sauces, these three are a great place to start, and here’s why:

  • They are fairly easy to make with readily available ingredients
  • They are classic sauces that have stood the test of time
  • They can introduce you to some global cuisines without being intimidated
  • They enhance a wide range of dishes compliant with popular diets, whether you are vegetarian, low carb, or keto
  • They store well in the refrigerator so you don’t have to use them for a single recipe and then toss
  • They are easy to modify to be low sugar but still have a robust flavor profile
  • They are a way to help busy people or beginning cooks make delicious and “unique” meals for family or friends

Low Carb Harissa Paste

Salmon topped with harissa sauce
Salmon topped with harissa sauce

Favorite Uses:  Harissa is a wonderful North African sauce or condiment that is used to flavor many different kinds of dishes.  It is frequently used to flavor couscous and grilled dishes.  It is also used as a relish or condiment with all kinds of meat.

The Harissa sauce we offer online is a Good Food Awards winner. I believe it is because we use a variety of seven different fresh peppers from the farm. For a DIY version see recipe below:

Low Sugar Harissa Sauce (or Paste)

Salmon topped with harissa sauce
Harissa is a North African paste made with peppers and spices. It ranges in the degree of spicy heat, depending on where you purchase it. This DIY recipe is considered medium to hot. It is not extremely hot in order that you can taste the complexity of the ingredient blend.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings 8
Calories 54
Author dorothy stainbrook

Ingredients

  • 12 dried chile peppers I used a combination of guajillo, pasilla and arbol but you can mix and match
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
  • juice from 1-2 lemons
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • De-stem chile peppers and soak dried chile peppers in pot of water that has just been turned off after being brought to a boil. Soak for 20-30 minutes to hydrate.
  • Toast spices 2-3 minutes in small, dry pan over medium heat, until aromatic. Let cool before grinding.
  • Grind spices and salt together in coffee bean grinder to fine grind.
  • Drain peppers, reserving chile water, and add all ingredients to blender or food processor. Process until smooth, thinning with chile water if necessary.

Notes

Step by step video for making harissa follows this recipe card (a youtube video)

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 292mgPotassium: 26mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 199IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if your share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!

Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details
Video on how to make harissa

Low Sugar Romesco Sauce

Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce
Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce

Favorite uses:  My favorite way of using this sauce has been to take it out of the refrigerator, warm it slightly in the microwave and top off scrambled or fried eggs with the sauce. 

It is also wonderful to add to vegetables or any sauce or skillet diner you are making to enhance the flavor profile.

If you want a great pre-made Romesco, check out the Romesco sauce we offer online. For a DIY version, see recipe below:

Low sugar Romesco Sauce

Scrambled eggs with a side of low carb Romesco sauce as a good protein source
An easy recipe for making this classic Italian sauce to enhance savory foods
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Servings 8
Calories 166
Author dorothy stainbrook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds lightly toasted
  • 2-3 garlic cloves peeled and smashed with back of knife
  • 4 oz roasted red bell peppers 1/2 of 8 oz jar
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar can substitute apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper powder I used my chipotle spice but cayenne pepper is fine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Toast almonds in dry frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes until aromatic (do not burn!).
  • Add toasted nuts, garlic, and the next 5 ingredients (up to the olive oil) in blender or food processor and process until well blended and finely chopped.
  • With motor running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for up to 3-4 weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 2gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 197mgPotassium: 110mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 239IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if your share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!

Low Carb Chimichurri Sauce

Roasted cauliflower with a side of chimichurri sauce
Roasted cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce

Favorite Uses:  Chimichurri is an important part of Argentinian cuisine, traditionally served with grilled chorizo and grilled steaks. 

This sauce also pairs nicely with chicken and fish, it works well as a marinade, and it is delicious on vegetables.  Any of these choices work with a low carb or slow carb diet.

Most of these low carb sauces can be stored for at least 3 weeks and used as convenient, creative meal enhancements by pairing them with just about any protein or veggie or egg dish you make.

Chimichurri Sauce

Low carb zucchini and shrimp fritters with sides of Romesco and Harissa sauces
A classic sauce from Argentina that enhances a wide range of proteins and vegetables
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Servings 6
Calories 168
Author dorothy stainbrook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes add more if you like it more spicy
  • 1 cup parsley leaves packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro optional
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • With motor running, add olive oil slowly until it reaches desired consistency (make sure and cover top of blender or sauce will splatter all over).

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 63mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 937IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if your share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!

For more recipes using Harissa:

Spiced ChickpeasTamale Harissa Pie

Baked wings

Crockpot Stuffed Bell Peppers

For more recipes using Romesco:

Italian Pepperonata

Spanish Pork Romesco

For more recipes using Chimichurri:

Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

Online Coaching

Although I am not currently taking clients for diet & health coaching, I have been a coach for many years with the online service called coach.me. It is a great platform for all kinds of coaching – anything from specific diets, writing a blog, getting up early, or getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site through the link below. There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  You can always contact me to get referrals also.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

12 Comments

  1. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

  2. […] is so hot you can’t distinguish the unique flavors.  You can also make your own of course.  Click here for a harissa recipe you can make at […]

  3. […] but for a more traditional chimichurri sauce,  see this recipe.  Or try a romesco sauce  with this recipe.  They are all great sauces and they can go with just about any other protein or vegetable on a […]

  4. […] To make your own sauces see this recipe. […]

  5. Roast Pork with Romesco Sauce for Slow Carb Diet on January 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    […] is a dish to make for Sunday supper or when you have time to cook.  Alternatively, you can go here for a recipe to make Romesco sauce ahead of time to use on this and other […]

  6. […] Three Mediterranean Sauces that are Great on Proteins […]

  7. […] to mop up the sauce.   The recipe below started with the vegetables that I had on hand, added harissa and cumin as the primary spices, and baked the eggs in the simmering ragout in a hot […]

  8. Anonymous on March 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Love your blogging, Dorothy!!

    • dorothy stainbrook on March 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you Mr./Ms. Anonymous! I hope to keep it up and am encouraged when people get something out of it. Thanks!

  9. […] Tbsp Harissa, (or Sambal Oelek, or […]

  10. Anonymous on February 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    How would you rate each of these sauces in terms of spicy or not? TexMex, So Calif, rest of US or Minnesotan?

    • dorothy stainbrook on February 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      The Romesco and Chimichurri are not really designed to be really spicy, whereas the harissa traditionally is quite hot. I like spice and I smoke my own chipotles, which is what I used in these. The amount of the chipotle powder in the Romensco and Chimichurri would probably make them rank as medium. The harissa would rank as hot as I used quite a few arbol peppers.

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