7 Lemony Recipes to Brighten Up The Winter

Chow on 02.15.13
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Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/CORBIS

There is something so wonderful about the brightness of a lemon. I think it provides a great boost of flavour when you are in the depths of a grey February day. (Actually, if you really want to brighten your day, have a gander at this YouTube video of babies eating lemons for the first time, and frankly, their moms laughing at them). I love the look of lemons, the smell and the way it makes your mouth water when you think about the tartness of it.

It's another one of those very versatile ingredients, providing the flavour base for both sweet and savoury dishes. You can make it the main ingredient, or just add a squeeze at the last minute to brighten up a soup or a stew. I used a lemon in my dinner last night. I  sauteed some chicken breasts and added a bit of chicken stock, some lemon and capers and used a bit of cornstarch to thicken and and voila! Dinner in no time at all. It's one of my go-to dinners when I'm busy during the day and I don't want to think about what to cook. It's great over rice, or potatoes, or even pasta and the sauce is great over green vegetables like spinach or kale. Not only that, it's great in tea or chicken stock if you are under the weather.

1. Lemon Vegetable Soup

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

We might as well start with a wonderful, healthy lemon vegetable soup. I made this with vegetable stock, but it would be a very soothing soup made with chicken stock for those days when you aren't feeling that great. If you like you can lightly beat an egg and whisk it into the soup for a bit of protein.

2. Lemon Parmesan Israeli Couscous

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I am fairly new to Israeli couscous which is much larger and chewier than the couscous that I'm used to. It's quite sturdy, so adding some vegetables to it would work beautifully. This lemon Parmesan Israeli couscous was a side dish with some grilled chicken and would be great with grilled fish, too.

3. Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

This is a very simple recipe for roasted cauliflower with lemon. I made it when I was in France two years ago, and the fruits and vegetables in the market in our Alpine village were so beautiful. It's an elegant thing to eat, and you could make it to go as a side dish will all kinds of things.

4. Celeriac and Carrots in a Lemon Sauce

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Goodness knows there is plenty of celeriac around in the grocery stores in my city at this time of the year. This celeriac and carrot salad in a lemon sauce makes a nice change from the roasted root vegetables that we often have at this time of the year.

 5. Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas and Lemon

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I absolutely loved this braised coconut spinach with chickpeas and lemon. This is a vegetarian recipe that proves that you can have a huge burst of flavour without having any meat involved. It's not pretty, but it's really delicious.

6. Preserved Lemons

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

If you are at all interested in Middle Eastern cooking, then plan on making some preserved lemons. They are very easy to do, but they do take a number of weeks before they are ready to use. They add a wonderful piquancy to dishes, and a little goes a long way. I made a fantastic chicken tagine with them.

7. Shaved Raw Asparagus with Lemon Dressing

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I realize that it's a bit early to be thinking about asparagus, but I'm giving you a recipe to dream about until it's time. When I made this shaved raw asparagus salad with lemon, I really wasn't prepared for how intense the flavour would be. It would make a great side dish with something a bit rich, like a quiche.

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