If oranges are citrus symbol of winter, bright and sunny lemons are what we reach for during the summer! In Sicily, lemons star in refreshing summer treats such as lemon granita, sorbetto, and gelato, and who in the United States can imagine a summer without fresh-squeezed lemonade, or a cool glass of iced tea accompanied by slices of lemon?
Available year round, the versatile lemon is a staple of kitchens throughout the world and this is especially true in the Mediterranean. One of the first things I noticed about eating out in Italy is that lemon slices are almost always served as an accompaniment to grilled meats, fish, and salads. Well, there’s good reason for that! A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a great way to add flavor to food without using too much salt.
Here are some ways to take advantage of the abundance of fresh lemons that are, luckily, available just about everywhere at any time of the year! Try using a combination of lemon juice, olive oil and fresh garlic next time you need a quick marinade for chicken, pork, or thin-sliced steak. Grilled sausage also benefits from a quick squeeze of lemon juice after it comes off the grill. And of course, lemon is the perfect accompaniment to all kinds of seafood.
Let’s not forget the vegetables! Lemon juice and olive oil make a light and refreshing dressing for green salads while steamed vegetables taste great with a dab of butter or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. And lemons pair well with fruits and berries, also! For a new twist, try adding lemon zest to your favorite blueberry muffin recipe.
Lemons add wonderful flavor to both sweet and savory dishes but there is another great reason to enjoy this versatile citrus fruit. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, one of the most important anti-oxidants in nature. So if you aren’t doing it already, try brightening up your diet with the addition of fresh lemons, your body and your taste buds will thank you for it!
Quick tips for lemons:
- When shopping, choose smooth-skinned lemons that feel heavy for their size.
- Store lemons in the refrigerator if you will not be using them immediately.
- 1 medium lemon equals approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- If lemon is cold, microwave it for a few seconds before squeezing to help extract more juice.
- Before juicing, use your palm to roll the lemon on the countertop a few times.
- If you will be using both the lemon zest and juice, remove the zest before cutting and juicing the lemon.
- When zesting a lemon, make sure to remove only the thin bright yellow part of the skin as the white pith underneath is bitter.
- Lemon juice sprinkled over fresh fruit such as sliced apples, prevents discoloration.
1 C. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C. sugar
4 C. water
In a pitcher, stir together lemon juice and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the water and ice cubes and stir again. Serve immediately.
Giant Lemon Sugar Cookies
2 C. sugar, divided
Zest of 2 lemons, divided
1 C. butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon juice
2 3/4 C flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
Prepare lemon sugar: In a mini food processor, blend 1/2 C. sugar with 1 t. lemon zest. Pulse several times until the lemon zest is incorporated into the sugar. Put sugar mixture in a shallow bowl and stir lightly with a fork to break up any clumps. Set aside.
Prepare cookie dough: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and remaining 1 1/2 C. sugar. Blend in eggs, one at a time then add vanilla, lemon juice, and remaining lemon zest. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition, until all flour is incorporated.
Refrigerate dough for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Shape the cookies: Using a jumbo cookie scoop or your hands, shape two tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball and roll in lemon sugar. Place ball of dough on cookie sheet and press down lightly with the bottom of a glass until cookie is about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat. Six cookies will fit on one 18″ x 13″ baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
Yield: 24 giant cookies
Around the Web:
- Meyer Lemon Butter Cookies from Alpineberry
- Ginger Lemon Cookies from Tigers and Strawberries
- Meyer Lemon Sables from Orangette
- Lemon Poppyseed Cookies from Oswego Tea