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If you’re tired of winter dishes, brighten them up with these fresh cooking ideas

According to the calendar, winter has only recently started, but the long weeks of cold, wet weather have us longing for brighter days and lighter fare. Luckily, winter gifts us one of the brightest, freshest flavors in a cook’s repertoire: citrus. By harnessing this tangy, mouthwatering seasonal flavor and mastering a few easy recipe swaps, you can enjoy summer flavors even on the darkest winter days.

In this article: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set, AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden with LED Grow Light and Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan.

Using citrus in winter recipes

Citrus is in season during winter, so lemon, grapefruit, orange, kumquat and more are now at their best and brightest. Along with starring in sweet and tangy desserts, citrus can brighten up heavy, rich dishes. Plus, many citrus fruits have a long shelf life if stored in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Some fruits can last up to three weeks.

To cook with citrus, use a microplane or vegetable peeler to shave off the zest, which contains the compounds that give citrus its distinctive aroma. Be careful to only remove the colorful part of the zest and avoid the white pith underneath, which can be bitter. Remember to wash the fruit thoroughly first to remove the waxy protective layer added for transport.

Summery flavors for winter cooking

A hearty salad made with fresh produce is an easy way to capture the feeling of summer in the depths of winter. Mix in-season ingredients with spinach, lettuce or other greens, or try using fresh-squeezed citrus juice in a homemade vinaigrette. 

Other simple swaps and cooking techniques can give your go-to winter dishes a much-needed summer lift:

  • Roast winter vegetables, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or squash, to bring out their natural sweetness, then toss them in salads.
  • Instead of summer berries such, as strawberries or raspberries, which are expensive and not as flavorful out of season, try pomegranate seeds in your favorite salad recipes.
  • Flash-frozen veggies contain just as much nutrition as their fresh counterparts, so try frozen corn in salsa, cornbread or soups.
  • Enjoy classic barbecue char indoors by searing kebabs, chicken pieces or burgers on a grill pan. Serve with a side of seasonal sweet potato rounds.
  • An indoor herb garden can help you produce a crop of fresh herbs all winter long. You’ll have best results with herbs that don’t mind being indoors, such as parsley, chives, oregano and thyme.

Best products for summer flavor year-round

Best OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set

Peel just about any produce with ease with these three peelers from a trusted brand. The set includes an all-purpose swivel peeler, a serrated peeler for soft fruits and a julienne peeler for thin, precise strips.

Sold by Amazon

Best OXO Etched Zester

OXO Etched Zester

The broad surface and non-slip components of this zester make grating effortless, not to mention safer. The etched metal cutting edges stay sharper for longer. It comes with a snap-on cover for safe storage.

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Best Zula 2-in-1 Lemon and Lime Juicer

Zulay 2-in-1 Lemon and Lime Juicer

Easily extract juice from lemons and limes and filter out seeds at the same time with this juicer. It’s made from sturdy, rust-resistant industrial aluminum with a durable coating. Its ergonomic handles make squeezing citrus halves easy and fast.

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Best AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden with LED Grow Light

AeroGarden Bounty Basic Indoor Garden with LED Grow Light

Sold with everything you need to start growing up to nine plants indoors, this hydroponic kit lets your herb garden flourish up to five times faster than in soil. It comes with seed pods, a trellis and more.

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Best Mindful Design Indoor Herb Garden Grow Light

Mindful Design Indoor Herb Garden Grow Light

This compact herb garden can fit three or four small pots of herbs under its full-spectrum LED light. It has a timer so you don’t have to remember to turn it on and off.

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Best Camp Chef Reversible Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Griddle

Camp Chef Reversible Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Griddle

One side of this sturdy cooking surface has a flat griddle, while the other side has ridges to give food barbecued grill marks. It fits most standard stove burners so you can replicate barbecue flavors indoors.

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Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan

Lodge Cast Iron Square Grill Pan

This convenient pan is easier to store than a large griddle, while still allowing home cooks to enjoy seared barbecue from the comfort of their kitchen. It arrives pre-seasoned and can be used on all cooking surfaces.

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Nordic Ware Baker’s Delight 3-Piece Pan Set

Nordic Ware Baker’s Delight 3-Piece Pan Set

These aluminum baking sheets are must-haves for everything from roasting vegetables to baking cookies. They conduct heat well and feature galvanized steel rims that resist warping. The set comes with half-sheet, quarter-sheet and jelly roll pans.

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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