6 Secret Ingredients to Give Summer Dinners Some Zing

zesting a lemon


Lemon zest -- A bit of grated lemon peel (just the yellow, not the white pith) adds a bright, sharp, citrusy flavor. Add it to marinades when you grill, salad dressing, and even fruit desserts.

Fresh mint -- Any fresh herb tastes like summer to me, but especially mint. I like whole leaves tossed into a salad, sprigs in drinks from lemonade to mojitos, and blended with garlic for a steak sauce.

Grated fresh ginger -- Another bright, sharp flavor. This is also great in marinades and desserts. I love it in drinks, too; grate it, wrap it in cloth, and then squeeze the juice out. 

Grapefruit juice -- Whisk with sesame or olive oil and a touch of honey for a refreshing salad dressing. Or mix with a little vodka (and that sprig of mint) for a classic greyhound. 

Cachaça -- This liquor made from sugarcane is the hot new star from Brazil. Use it to make a traditional caipirinha, which is a lot like a mojito. Or use it with that fresh ginger for a super simple grilled pork glaze.

Chili flakes -- Add a little heat to your food with just a few shakes of chili flakes. Try it over grilled corn on the cob, on fish, and to wake up your potato salad. 

What are your favorite summer "secret" ingredients?


Image ©iStock.com/kasiasaturkday

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