Savage Six – Lemons
*A portion of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com as part of an article I wrote for them!
This bright, fragrant fruit not only looks pretty in a simple bowl on your countertop, but it also has a variety of practical uses to get you through the week. Many recipes call for lemon to bring extra brightness and acidity to the dish, and are perfect for whipping up easy salad dressings (olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper is quite literally the easiest!). Here are six quick reasons you should always keep lemons at the ready.
- Cocktail Topper – Lemons can be thinly sliced to top off a martini or a vodka-soda with a twist. This is a really easy hack to look a little fancy and add something special to your cocktails. I would use a zester/twist tool unless you have good cutting skills.
- Water Enhancer – Whether you’re attempting to stay hydrated yourself or serving water at a party or dinner gathering, slicing up some fresh lemon and squeezing a little juice in your glass or into a pitcher is a simple upgrade to your H2O. I like to create thin, circular slices by cutting straight down the side of the fruit. If you’re only adding it to a glass of water you can just toss a couple in there, or it works easily for a pitcher too. You can keep it to lemon only or I LOVE adding in sliced strawberries as well. Any lemon you don’t use can be put in a Ziploc bag and kept in the fridge for a few days.
- Natural Cleaner – If you don’t get the opportunity to use your lemons one week, one of my favorite little tricks is to generously squeeze the juice onto a cutting board along with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. Just scrub and rinse for a cleaned up board. I also like throwing a few slices into my garbage disposal to freshen up your sink now and then. A few other natural cleaning combinations are outlined here.
- Salad Dressing Ingredient – As mentioned above, one of the simplest ways to make a quick, healthy dressing is to combine some lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl or directly on your favorite greens. If you have room to ‘cheat’ on the healthy aspect, I’d probably add some Parmesan in there as well.
- Hot Water Detoxifier – Technically this could easily be classified under ‘water enhancer’, but as I’m specifically referencing this combo for digestive purposes, I thought I’d keep it separate. My late Grandmother drank a glass of warm/hot water every morning with lemon and swore it helped with her digestion and maintaining her thin frame throughout her life. Turns out there is some proof to this habit as evidenced by a recent article from Shape. This is a habit I have wanted to instate for years but have yet to do so, I guess it’s better late than never! In addition to helping with digestion and detoxification it can help your skin look younger and help boost your immune system. Especially as I don’t drink tea, when I’m feeling under the weather and/or particularly when I have a sore throat, I’ll add lemon and honey to hot water to help me feel better.
- Recipe Staple – Lemons are an ingredient for SO many different recipes, and one of my all time favorites is adding lemon to pasta, olive oil and Parm. I’ll be creating a blog post for it soon, but in the meantime you can check out my favorite recipe from Chrissy Tiegen that calls for lemons below!
Chrissy Tiegen’s Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio E Pepé
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1/4 pound (about 3/4 cup) pancetta or bacon, finely diced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons (about 4 big cloves) minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 cups baby arugula
- In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (it comes in handy), then drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until crisped, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the olive oil, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the lemon juice to the skillet, then toss in the drained pasta and toss to coat. Add the Parm and toss, adding the pasta water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, just to help the cheese coat the pasta. Add the arugula and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute. Season to taste with additional salt, lots of black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve with more Parm.