Photos by Tina Rupp

Turn up the heat with edible aphrodisiacs, including honey, mint, fennel, peppers, and garlic.

Is life a little dry these days? Maybe the solution lies in your kitchen. Liven up this month's meals by pouring on a few scrumptious sauces, guaranteed to satisfy your (and your sweetheart's) appetite. These intriguing accompaniments are meant to inflame your imagination, so don't stop with the recipe suggestions here: Use the sauces hot or cold, and try them with any preparation of fish, chicken, grains, vegetables, or tofu for unforgettably luscious meals.

Honey-Pear-Ginger Sauce
Makes about 3 1/2, cups / Be prepared to give out the recipe! Sweet, sharp ginger, used in its crystallized form, adds crunch and flavor. Serving tips: The perfect topping for frozen yogurt, whole-grain pancakes, waffles, and French toast, or a yogurt and granola parfait.

4 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons almond oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground allspice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Combine pears and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and toss to combine.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 3–5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add cinnamon and allspice and toss to combine. Add honey and cook, stirring occasionally, until pears are soft and juices are syrupy, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, ginger, and pecans. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/2 cup):
Calories: 170 calories
% fat calories: 39
Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrate: 27g
Fiber: 4g
Sodium: 4mg

Citrus-Honey-Mint Sauce on Ruby Trout
Serves 4 / Serving tips: Delicious served with lemon rice and a leafy green salad. You can use this sauce hot or cold over grains or chicken, and it keeps well for weeks in the refrigerator.

Citrus-Honey-Mint Sauce (makes about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons almond oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped leek, white part only
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups strongly brewed mint tea
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 8-ounce ruby trout fillets
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Whole fresh chives and toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

1. For the sauce, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; add garlic, leek, and parsley and sauté for about 2 minutes until softened. Add tea, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and honey; bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat. Simmer until sauce reduces by half, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Brush trout fillets with 1/2 tablespoon canola oil and lightly dust with panko. In a large sauté pan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add fillets and lightly brown until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Arrange fish on a platter. Top with sauce and garnish with chives and toasted almonds.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 457 calories
% fat calories: 47
Fat: 24g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 99mg
Protein: 36g
Carbohydrate: 25g
Fiber: 0g
Sodium: 146mg

Roasted Red Pepper and Pomegranate Sauce over Pan-Seared Tofu
Serves 6 / Serving tip: To make a thicker dipping sauce for toasted pita bread or chips, eliminate the vegetable stock. Ingredient tips: Use bottled roasted peppers for convenience. Look for pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern markets, or use pomegranate concentrate, available at health food stores.

Roasted Red Pepper and Pomegranate Sauce (makes about 1 2/3 cups)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2-3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 19-ounce package extra-firm (not silken) tofu, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
Minced parsley, for garnish

1. To make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add next 7 ingredients (broth through almonds) and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and process until very smooth, 1–2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin with a little more broth if necessary.

2. Wrap tofu in paper towels and press gently to absorb water. Slice tofu in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add tofu and brown well on both sides. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with minced parsley.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 247 calories
% fat calories: 65
Fat: 18g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 11g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 45mg

Roasted Vegetable and Fennel Sauce over Couscous
Serves 8 / Serving tip: This sauce also pairs beautifully with steamed halibut, pasta, or chicken.

Roasted Vegetable and Fennel Sauce (makes about 6 cups)
8 large shallots (7-8 ounces total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke quarters
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2/3 cup pitted brine-cured olives (such as niçoise)
1 garlic head, cloves separated, unpeeled
6 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), quartered
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (removed from stems)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper

2 cups cooked couscous
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place all sauce ingredients in a large roasting pan and toss well. Cover pan with foil and roast for 20 minutes; remove foil, increase heat to 450°, and roast for another 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all vegetables except tomatoes and garlic to a bowl; cover with foil and keep warm.

2. Peel garlic cloves and add half to the fennel mixture in bowl. Place remaining half in a food processor with tomatoes and all pan juices. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into bowl with vegetables and stir to combine.

3. Distribute hot couscous onto serving plates and top with sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 171 calories
% fat calories: 34
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 6mg
Protein: 5g
Carbohydrate: 25g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 255mg

Karin Lazarus contributes regularly to Delicious Living.