Recipes: sauces & dressings | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Recipes: sauces & dressings



As all chefs know, a good sauce, gravy or dressing can be the key to transforming a dish. Vegans love them too - but use different ingredients.

Check out Core Recipes for gravy, mayo and cashew cream!



Italian Tomato Basil Dressing

Makes 1 cup/240ml | 5 minutes

This is a really simple, delicious and healthy salad dressing or dipping sauce. Using oil-free sundried tomatoes makes it a fat-free option.



  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes (dried, soft or in oil)

  • 1 fresh tomato, coarsely chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 4 tbsp water

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste


1. If using completely dried tomatoes, soak them in boiling water until soft.

2. Blend all ingredients until smooth. 

3. The mixture will keep in the fridge for a week or more.


Roasted Pepper & Pine Nut Sauce

Serves 4 | 5-10 minutes if using ready-roasted peppers

If pine nuts break the budget, replace with other nuts, eg cashews or almonds

  • 225g/8oz roasted red peppers - roasted under the grill or taken from a jar

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (omit if using peppers in oil from a jar)

  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (blanched almonds or cashews also work)

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp dried basil or 1 tbsp fresh

  • 1 tsp crushed garlic (approx 1 large clove)

  • ½ tsp salt

  • Pinch ground allspice


1. Lightly pan-roast the nuts if not already done – keep turning so they don’t burn.

2. Allow nuts to cool then grind until fine.

3. Blend ground nuts and all other ingredients until creamy and smooth.

4. Warm sauce through gently and serve on grain/vegetables of your choice.


Vegan Fish Sauce

Our recipe not only gives you a great home-made version but suggests ready-made options if that's easier.



Lots of South East Asian recipes - eg Thai or Vietnamese - list fish sauce in their ingredients so having a vegan option means any such recipes can be offered to vegan and vegetarian customers. 

The recipe makes a small jar full so double up if you want more. It will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge. It can also be used as a sauce with tofu - fry it up in the usual way then drizzle the sauce over the tofu before serving. Mmm!


Vegan fish sauces are sold throughout the US* and are just starting to edge their way into the UK market (July 2017). Two brands to watch out for (or hassle your supplier to stock!) 

  • Tofuna Vegan Fysh Sauce

  • Au Lac Nuoc Mam Chay




  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp good quality soya sauce, eg Essential, Suma, Kikoman

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts

  • 2 tsp nori flakes

  • Pinch of chilli powder or a little more to taste


  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

  2. Thin with a little more water to soya sauce consistency.

  3. Store in the fridge in an airtight container, eg a small glass jar or bottle.

Raw Avocado Pesto



This is delicious and super quick. 

(Should you wish to make a regular pesto, it's simple. Just replace the Parmesan with nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan. Alternatively, buy vegan pesto in jars, eg Meridian, Zest, Mr Organic etc.

  • Flesh of 2 large, ripe avocados

  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil

  • ⅓ cup/50g of whole raw cashews or pine nuts (raw just means unroasted and unsalted)

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled (or use wild garlic, as pictured)

  • 1 tsp lemon zest plus juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ tsp sea salt

  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (Marigold Engivita – not to be confused with brewer’s yeast)


  1. If you want the flavour of toasted nuts, gently roast them in a non-stick frying pan for a minute or two, stirring constantly so they don't catch and burn. Remove from the heat and transfer into a bowl .

  2. Alternatively, use the nuts raw.

  3. Remove about a quarter of the basil from the pack/bunch. Snip it into smallish rough pieces with scissors and set aside.

  4. Place the nuts, garlic, avocados, lemon juice, olive oil, yeast flakes and three quarters of the pack of basil into the food processor or blender. Do this for about 30 seconds but use short blasts to pulse the ingredients, to stop the nuts turning into a paste. 

  5. Stir in the snipped basil and lemon zest. Mix in. Add to cooked pasta or courgettini and serve.