Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

Just a little squeeze or grate can add a lot of flavor to a ton of foods. Here are some of our favorite ways to use lemon.

We’ve all heard the old adage—When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what they should say instead is: When life gives you lemons, make cake… or salad… or roast chicken.

Whether you sprinkle in a few drops of lemon juice, stir in a handful of zest, or make lemon the star ingredient, there’s plenty to love about this small tangy fruit. In fact, adding more lemon to your diet can help strengthen your immune system and aid in digestion.

Lemon’s tart acidic flavor is best enjoyed as a complement to other ingredients, says Mark McDonough, a Panera Bread® culinary team member. Says Mark: “It’s really about pairing. As a chef, I think of lemon as a secret ingredient. The citric acid is a great flavor enhancer.”

So, where to begin? We asked Mark to share his favorite ideas for using lemon at home.

Bake tart into sweet. “I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, so my absolute favorite lemon treat is lemon meringue pie,” says Mark. “But lemons also work really well in cookies, cakes, icings, and even quick bread.”

Liven up appetizers. Roll a log of goat cheese in lemon zest, chopped basil, and pink peppercorns; serve with crackers.

Squeeze into soup. Add a generous squeeze of lemon to chicken soup, or the next time you’re at your local bakery-cafe, try our Low-Fat Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup for inspiration (when avilable seasonally).

Brighten green vegetables. Cook a ½ pound of green beans in boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add beans and a ¼ cup of chopped hazelnuts. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1¼ teaspoons each of lemon juice and grated zest.

Wake up chicken. Stuff halved lemons inside a whole chicken and roast until done.

Dress up grains. Add lemon zest to grains like quinoa, couscous, and rice.

Mix a marinade. Combine ¼ cup of orange juice, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, and pour over chicken that’s ready for the grill.

Preserve the flavor. “It’s easy to make a batch of flavorful preserved lemons,” says Mark. Wash the lemons in warm water and brush lightly to release the oil in the rind. Slice through the top of each lemon, opening it like a flower (almost quartered, but still intact). Rub coarse salt over the lemons, inside and out, then place them in a sterilized canning jar. When the jar is full, add ¼ cup more salt and fill to the top with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place for one month.

“Preserved lemons add a great profile to seafood, grains, and salads. You can use them as you would a regular lemon, but the flavor is more intense,” says Mark. “Just don’t forget to brush off the excess salt before use.”

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

  • Prep :
  • Cooking :
  • Serves : 8

Ingredients

Serves 8

Directions

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

  • cook time:  (plus 1 hour cooling)
  • cook time:  (plus 1 hour cooling)

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

  • Prep :
  • Cooking :
  • Serves : 60

Ingredients

Serves 60

Directions

Nutrition (Per Serving)

  • 14 calCalories
  • 0.26 gProtein
  • 2 gCarbohydrates
  • 0.67 gFat
  • 0 mgCholesterol
  • 3 gSodium
  • 0.09 gDietary Fiber

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

Lemon Love: Eight Ways to Add a Little Zest

  • Prep :
  • Cooking :
  • Serves : 12

Ingredients

Serves 12

Directions

Nutrition (Per Serving)

  • 268 calCalories
  • 6 gProtein
  • 41 gCarbohydrates
  • 10 gFat
  • 54 mgCholesterol
  • 184 mgSodium
  • 0 gDietary Fiber