Bring North Africa with its smoky peppers and warm ginger into your kitchen, with a whole lot less work than chopping up aromatics and buying fresh herbs. That is the beauty of these sauces: cross off a dozen things from that grocery list because you've got it all in one wonderful little jar of veggies and whole spices. Mise en place? Nope, not today: you have a Mesa de Vida cooking sauce at your command, ready to round out a saute or garnish a warm bowl of . . . anything.
For the true, true stories behind this incredible foodstuff, read on.
Sofrito! It's a beloved cooking "shortcut" used in many cultures. You know that huge pile of fresh herbs and veggies that need to be chopped up and blended together before you can even start cooking? THAT is what these sauces are designed to replace: all that chopping and buying and choosing.
I adore ginger in all forms and strengths, and there's a nice gentle earthy warmth in this sauce from fresh ginger, bolstered by vibrancy from citrus and hearty tomatoes to give the recipe body.
That's the beauty and deliciousness of Mesa de Vida cooking sauces: keeping your cooking fresh and real while removing just the right amount of tedium. Mesa de Vida doesn't give you everything pre-cut and ready to cook in a box like some options out there, but it takes some of the most inconvenient tasks and eliminates them from your meal prep. These sauces are a GAME CHANGER.
Why Mesa de Vida's Cooking Sauces are so handy in your kitchen
Here's why these sauces are like a lifeline for your next mealtime: fresh food, less work. What Chef Kirsten Helle has done in creating these recipes is put all those fresh ingredients you'd need to find, chop, season, and blend and put them in a jar ready for you to use. You might have seen other jars like this at the grocery store called "sofrito": similar idea, but WOW the flavors that Mesa de Vida is making are so far and above any other jarred sauce I've tried. And I've tried a lot!
Nothing in these jars is aging or desiccated (like most of my spice rack, oops). All you'll find are ingredients like onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, bell peppers, celery, and herbs galore. It's everything your recipes need to get a good start, and extra flavors to add even more pizazz at the end when you put it all on a plate.
Here are some of the key flavors in this North African Inspired Cooking Sauce:
Ginger: serious warmth and flavor. Ginger makes everything just a little potent without bringing too much heat to the party, so to speak. In just the right amount it can add a touch of warmth that won't set your belly on fire. This ginger enhances the natural flavors of all of the fresh veggies that go into this recipe, as well as the food you're drizzling it over!
[Roasted Bell Peppers]
Color, texture, and a deep smoky flavor: that's what roasted peppers bring to this recipe. I'm not alone in buying those flame roasted yellow and red peppers at the store, right? They are so easy, so convenient, so we all agree that this is a great time-saver when it comes to raising the dial on our recipe's flavor.
How to use these Cooking Sauces
There are so many amazing ways to use sauces that have this much flavor and this much zest for fresh foods. Have a hankering for warming soup? All you need to do is cook some colorful lentils in your favorite broth with a few big spoonfuls of North African sauce. When everything is done, drizzle with your favorite flavorful oil and serve. Now that's a great cool weather idea.
Here's just a start at more ideas:
- Drizzle on roasted spring vegetables: eggplant, asparagus!
- Stir in to your cauliflower fried rice for a burst of magic
- Spoon over hot scrambled eggs
- Slow cooker? Absolutely! A few spoonfuls for your heirloom beans, a few dollops for that whole chicken.
- Most. Decadent. Salsa. Ever.
- Shake with olive oil and cider vinegar for utterly amazing salad dressing
- Speaking of chips, stir a bit of any Mesa de Vida sauce into simple guacamole for an insanely wonderful flavor boost
- Saute the cooking sauce is your favorite healthy cooking oil before adding stir-fry veggies. So amazing!
- And, oh yeah, Mesa de Vida has a boatload of recipes just for you: https://www.mesadevida.com/find/recipes/
About Mesa de Vida, in their own words
From Chef Kirsten Helle, creator of Mesa de Vida:
"By age 25, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prediabetes. But one day, as I watched my 2-year-old daughter play, I knew if I continued down this path, she would follow in my footsteps. I needed to create a new family legacy – for myself and for her. I began by clearing out my cupboards – by eating real food. I focused on a healthy lifestyle, not a number on the scale, and I “accidentally” lost over 100 lbs. I finally realized healthy could mean balanced (I was living proof!), and I knew it was my mission to help others.
But I found that to achieve the flavors I was going for in a healthy, authentic way, I had to often prep tons of ingredients, and spend a small fortune on pure spices and herbs. I had been perfecting my Latin sofrito, not only to flavor my dishes, but also to sneak more nutrition into some of my picky players. I found the natural balance provided by fresh vegetables and fruits, combined with the pure spice blends really allowed the flavors to “bloom”, and created something quite special and delicious.
I tailored the spices and vegetables around my cooking clients' individual cultural background and flavors – bringing them a taste of home and honoring their cultures, while also being easy to make, versatile, and always fitting their healthy needs. After coming home, I would wish I had these healthy cooking sauces and flavor bases in my cupboard to be able to have something quick, healthy, and flavorful on hand to make dinner for my own family! I knew I wasn’t the only one with this need. And thus, Mesa de Vida was born."
Here are answers to some of your most important questions!
Are these cooking sauces GMO-free? Paleo? Gluten Free? Vegan?
When it comes to ingredients, the answer is YES. The fresh ingredients add flavor on their own without thickeners, sugars, or any weird stuff. Note that the equipment used could have come into contact with gluten or non-vegan ingredients, so the sauces are not certified at this time. But Mesa de Vida is working on those certifications and will have them as they grow in the future!
How long do these sauces last?
Well, that kind of depends on your appetite! Unopened, they can sit on your shelf for months but you really don't want that, do you? Once opened they should be treated like the fresh food they are and refrigerated and then consumed within a few weeks. With those recipe ideas above you should have no issues!