EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 30, 2013

Add zest to meals with lemons

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — Lemons’ tart citrusy flavor brightens up main meals, side dishes, drinks and desserts. Here are some recipes:

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Dotted with lots of zesty lemon, this tasty stir-fry has a colorful mix of snow peas, carrots, and scallions. Feel free to substitute other thinly sliced vegetables, such as green peppers or zucchini. I like to serve this over rice noodles or brown rice.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lemon

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces

10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered

1 cup sliced carrots, cut on the diagonal

2 cups snow peas, stems and strings removed if fresh

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces; white and green parts separated

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest and set aside. Juice the lemon and whisk 3 tablespoons of the juice with broth, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add mushrooms and carrots to the pan and cook until carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring, until well heated, another few minutes.

Basic Lemon Vinaigrette

Makes 11/2 cups

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup olive oil

Combine all except oil; whisk or shake till salt and sugar dissolved. Whisk in oil slowly.

Keeps in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Good with one of these quick salads:

Salad greens, kalamata olives and thinly sliced scallions.

Radicchio and raisins (pretty with golden raisins).

Ways with lemon

Basic dessert glaze — whisk 2 cups confectioners sugar with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; add up to 2 more tablespoons juice until desired consistency; good on pound cake, cookies, coffee cake.

Lemony smashed potatoes – Lightly smash 3 pounds cooked red un-peeled potatoes, toss with a 1/4 olive oil and 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest; add coarse salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon-chive roasted vegetables – Cut potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and sweet onions in large pieces. Place in bowl and coat with chopped fresh chives, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and just enough olive oil to coat all. (Start with a teaspoon of zest and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to taste.)

Bake at 425 degrees in a single layer for approximately 30 minutes.

Fresh green beans with lemon and thyme — To 2 pounds cooked green beans add 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel. Toss until well mixed.

Lemon water – Keep a large pitcher of ice water with sliced lemons in it in your refrigerator all summer to promote hydrating.

Kitchen tips

Juicing a lemon – To get the most juice from a lemon, start by rolling it on a work surface under your palm a few times, or microwave it for 10 seconds before cutting it in half. Thin-skinned lemons have more juice and fewer seeds. Look for round lemons that give slightly when pressed when buying.

Get the best zest – A Microplane grater is the easiest way to get fine zest, and it is easier to clean than a box grater. For larger pieces of zest for cocktails or candy, you can use a vegetable peeler. Thick-skinned lemons are obviously better for zesting. Scrub lemons before using to remove food-grade wax from skin. When zesting try to only get the yellow part, not the white “pith” which is bitter.

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Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com.