Never cook another lackluster dish again with these tips for adding citrus to your meals.
Photo: Ted Cavanaugh

A hit of citrus is a chef's secret weapon for adding brightness and balance, and with diverse varieties in season, now is the perfect time to play with fresh flavor. The sweet-tart taste and the acidity amplify other ingredients, making the resulting dish bolder and more complex, says Oliver Ridgeway, the executive chef of Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento, California. (Try these healthy citrus desserts.) Lemons and limes are great staples, but don't forget pomelos, blood oranges, tangelos, and others. Each delivers different notes of zestiness and a dose of vitamin C. Ridgeway likes to find innovative ways to use the entire fruit, from the rind to the juice. Read on, and discover for yourself.

Shake Up a Vinaigrette

Blend pomelo, grapefruit, or tangelo juice with a small shallot, olive oil, a squeeze each of fresh orange juice and lemon juice, lemon zest, a bit of white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. (Related: Savory Ways to Enjoy Citrus This Winter)

Make a "Margarita" Rub

For a party-ready salmon dish, combine lime zest with ground coriander, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, a dash of chipotle adobo sauce, chopped cilantro, salt, and tequila, and press into the fist before grilling or baking.

Give Your Soup a Twist

Add the zest of a Buddha's hand citron to potato-leek soup to elevate the flavor, or combine it with parsley and garlic to make a gremolata to sprinkle over a Tuscan-style bean soup. (Another option: this Greek lemon quinoa soup)

Create a Sweet-Sour Salsa

Chop the flesh of a blood orange and a Meyer lemon, and mix with diced cooked golden and red beets, minced chiles, cilantro, salt, a splash of lime juice, shallot, and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with chips.

Pick Up Our Favorite Citrus Finds

Casablanca Market Moroccan preserved lemons ($6; will turn up the flavor on everything from soups and dressings to meat. Brighten a marinade for roasted vegetables, fish, or chicken with O blood orange olive oil ($19; Or drizzle it on a salad. Sip Uncle Matt's organic grapefruit probiotic water ($3; grocery stores) for a refreshing hit made from the fruit's zest–and no added sugar. Sweet and tangy, Kite Hill artisan almond milk yogurt in key lime ($2; is as creamy as the kind made from dairy thanks to a traditional culturing process.