Many of our favorite chefs count citrus, in its many forms, as their secret weapon ingredient. Here, five chefs share tips on what to do with citrus zest, the underappreciated star of the kitchen.
1. Don’t stop at juice. “Any recipe that calls for lemon or lime or grapefruit or orange juice, I almost always include the zest as well. It’s so aromatic and provides a wonderful depth of flavor. Another tip: Always zest citrus directly into whatever you are making. If you zest it into a separate bowl first, you'll lose all the oils from the peel.” – Katie Button, Cúrate, Asheville
2. Beat store-bought herb blends. “I dry lemon zest slightly and make my own version of herbes fines with that plus cilantro, parsley, chervil and chives. I finish everything with this herb blend.” – Briar Handly, Handle, Salt Lake City
3. Perk up pasta. “Whenever I want something easy, quick and filling, I make a pasta with lemon zest, parmesan cheese and parsley. I always keep those ingredients in the house so I can make myself a good meal in a pinch." – Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA
4. Go sweet or savory. “Citrus peels never go to waste at our restaurant. Whenever we juice a citrus fruit, we first zest the peel with a microplane and make citrus salts for seasoning fish and meat, or we dry the zest to flavor cakes and ice creams.” – Ryan Brazeal, Novel, Kansas City, MO
5. Make magic with dip. “I top Heluva Good! onion dip with fried garlic, fried shallots, chives and lemon zest. People at parties think I make the best onion dip.” – Christopher Gould, Central Provisions, Portland, ME