Citrus fruits are the divas of the taste world, trilling notes to awaken our taste buds. They brighten, allure, and make the other flavors dance. Miraculously, amid winter’s gray, we have 10 …
Citrus fruits are the divas of the taste world, trilling notes to awaken our taste buds. They brighten, allure, and make the other flavors dance. Miraculously, amid winter’s gray, we have 10 vocalists to enjoy: lemons, limes, oranges, clementine, grapefruit, satsuma, marmalade orange, tangelo, tangerine, and pomelos. Each dazzles with their own repertoire.
I like to imagine taste and smell as music. When we eat ingredients in combination, they give us sensations in various keys. As cooks, we want the melody heard, the dish in harmony, with a periodic flavor lift to delight us.
Never waste citrus zest or peels!
I dry orange rinds on a plate, and when I have a moment, scissor them into strips. I use them in spiced tea, or mince some into quick breads.
Tip: Use a micro plane to zest lemons and oranges.
Add lemon or lime juice to soups or stews just before serving. Use them in salad dressings, salsa, chutney and other fresh sauces which are best fresh.
Roasting is the exception. Lemons will caramelize when roasted and are amazing. Try roasting carrots, fresh thyme, and sliced lemons together with olive oil.
Use both the bright yellow tart acidic Eureka lemons and Meyers lemons.
Meyers lemons aren’t true lemons, but a cross between lemons and mandarins. They have a thinner skin, are rounder, with a yellow-orange color. Although not sweet, they are less acidic, and their zest and juice has floral undertones that add wonderful nuances to lemon dishes.
Lime zest is a wonder. Lime combined with grapefruit make the perfect sour and bitter juice for bright fresh sauces. Limes sliced paper thin are great additions to salads.
I used to make preserved lemons, then I had the lazy inspiration to chop them in a food processor. It worked great, so now I make preserved lemon relish. I use it in salad dressings, sauces, dips, spreads, marinades, straight out of the jar, or even to make sweet lemon and walnut pies!
I use the sweet, thin-skinned Meyers lemons. Buy two dozen and cut off their tops and tails, quarter them, slice out their core membranes, take out any seeds, and chop each quarter in half.
For every 1 cup of lemon chunks, add 1 teaspoon of sea salt. The salted lemon chunks go into the food processor, pulsed to relish consistency.
Pack the relish into pint mason jars, leaving an inch of headroom.
Cover them and leave them out to ferment at room temperature for three to four days. The lemon relish is ready to use when it tastes more sour than salty. It’s like making lacto-fermented kraut or pickles. Store the relish in the fridge after fermenting. It will keep for up to a year, and get better as it develops. Although, it may mold if it doesn’t have enough acidic juices covering the top of the relish.
Spiced Roasted Carrots with Citrus and Lemongrass
Green olive, fennel, and orange salsa with fried walnuts
Ginger Carrot Citrus Salad
Citrus pickled red onions
Orange and Kalamata Olive Chopped Salad
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
½ of a red onion, chopped and blanched
for 1 minute if too sharp
2 navel oranges, zested, peeled, and sliced into sections
Zest of both oranges
Zest and juice of one lemon
½ cup Italian parsley, minced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup walnuts, toasted
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt
Assemble and prepare the ingredients.
Add olives, blanched red onion, orange sections, zests, parsley, celery, toasted walnuts, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes to a food processor bowl. Pulse several times until everything is fresh salsa consistency.
The salad will continue to develop its flavors. Keeps refrigerated for a week.
(Sidonie Maroon is the culinary educator at The Food Co-op; abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op. Find more recipes at www.foodcoop.coop/blog/citrus.)
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