Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spotlight on a Pantry Staple - Fresh Lemons

Lemons are a versatile citrus fruit that not only helps you get your vitamin C, but also brightens your food. Lemons ideal for health and nutrition because they aid digestion, diabetes prevention, and immunity boosting. Lemons = Super food! I always have 2-3 lemons on-hand in my pantry as a go-to ingredient that I can use in a assortment of dishes. Lemons are a staple for lighter cooking because their fresh, acidic flavor complements fish, salads, and sauces.

Grate it! The peel contains the essential oils so to get a higher impact lemon flavor, grate the peel with a handheld grater, such as a microplane. You can use the grater for other foods like garlic, ginger, or cheese. Use lemon zest as an accent ingredient.

Sprinkle lemon zest on top of frosted vanilla cupcakes, soup, cake batter, seafood, or salads. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

Juice it! Use a handheld lemon press to squeeze the lemon juice to help strain the seeds. Just cut the lemon in half and juice it. I recommend juicing a lemon in a small prep bowl in case some seeds get through. The last thing you want is to bite into a bitter lemon seed!

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice as a quick salad dressing with olive oil (1/2 and 1/2 proportion), to drizzle on Italian soup, marinade for seafood, with sauteed spinach, or for making pesto.

Slice It! Place sliced lemons in a water pitcher. Add ice and then water. Serve this at dinner parties or brunches. You can even add a few sprigs of mint. Lemons water is refreshing for a spring and summer day.

Quick Tip: If you're using both the lemon zest and juice in the same meal, it's easier to grate the peel first and then juice next.

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