Citrus: Celebrating the sweet with the sour

  • Tue Mar 20th, 2012 10:04pm

<b>FOOD FINDS | </b>By Mina Williams Herald writer

“As spring approaches, I look forward to citrus basil vinaigrette, one of my favorite dressings,” says Chef John Ponticelli of Tulalip Resort Casino. “It excites the palate, bringing out the bold flavors in any salad or vegetable. It is quick and easy to prepare and can be made in advance.”

For this citrus vinaigrette Ponticelli likes to use the juice from fresh-squeezed oranges, limes and lemons, all of which are at the peak of their season. He suggests blending the different juices together, tasting as you go, to achieve the prefect balance between sweet and sour.

“In this recipe, I like to use honey because it adds sweetness,” he says. “It counterbalances the tartness from the vinegar and citrus, and also helps to stabilize the emulsion – meaning the oil and the juices won’t separate once blended. Any vinaigrette dressing with honey in it will remain emulsified for a much longer time – certainly longer than it takes to eat a salad.”

Ponticelli will be one of the guest chefs March 29 at FareStart Seattle. FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Every month a noted chef works with the students to produce a meal for the public.

“I like this dressing so much, I’ll be serving it for that dinner,” Ponticelli says. “My featured course will be a mixed green salad with this citrus basil vinaigrette.”

Citrus Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 8


2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh basil, stems removed

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/8 cup honey

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil


For best results, all of your ingredients should be at room temperature.

1. Using a blender, place the basil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, pepper, garlic and orange, lime and lemon juices and blend until pureed.

2. While blending, slowly add the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chef’s tip: The most effective way of combining the oil and the vinegar is in a blender. If you don’t have a blender, you can combine everything in a glass or stainless steel bowl by whisking them together thoroughly. (Just don’t use an aluminum bowl – the acid in the vinegar can react with the aluminum, producing a metallic flavor.)

Recipe courtesy of Chef John Ponticelli of Tulalip Resort Casino.