Until I began to grow and cook with the fruit from my own trees, I thought citrus fruit went with summer - lemonade, ice cold margaritas, and citrus marinades for the grill. Although lemons and limes are available all year, winter is the season for most citrus. The grapefruit, pomelo, navel orange, blood orange, satsuma, tangerine, tangelo, clementine, Meyer lemon, Buddha’s hand, key lime, finger limes and kumquats all peak in the winter. Adding citrus fruits to winter dishes feels like adding some bright sunshine. The citrus fruits are typically so abundant that persevering is a must not only to avoid waste but also to allow the opportunity enjoy all the various way citrus can be prepared.
The Meyer Lemon is one of my favorite citrus fruits. Frank Meyer, an agricultural explorer for the US Department of Agriculture, introduced the Meyer Lemon to the US in 1908. On a plant-collecting trip to China he found the tree growing in pots as an ornamental. The lemon is a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange. It is a medium sized, round with golden yellow color. The rind is very shiny, smooth and thin. Meyer lemons super juicy and much less acidic than true lemons. Meyer lemons have been grown in California since the 40’s but were relatively obscure. They were added to Slow Food Ark of Taste, a catalogue of under appreciated, at risk and sometimes endangered foods. The Meyer lemon is now widely know, largely thanks to Alice Waters and her use of the Meyer lemon at Chez Panisse in the 70’s when the popularity of cooking and serving seasonal, regional food emerged. Recipes for Meyer lemon soufflé and Meyer lemon meringue pie were published in Chez Panisse desserts in 1985.
Since I have a prolific Meyer lemon tree, I have a variety of favorite recipes for cocktails, appetizers, condiments, preserves, entrees and desserts. I will share some of them with you beginning with this simple relish.
Meyer Lemon Relish
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 large Meyer lemon cut in 8 wedges, seeds and core remove then each wedge cut in thin triangle slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or grated on a microplane
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 tablespoons lovage, minced (optional)
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
a pinch for cayenne pepper
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Thinly slice the shallots and macerate in the champagne vinegar while preparing the other ingredients. Cut the Meyer lemon in thin slices. First cut the lemon in 8 wedges, remove seeds and core, then cut each wedge in thin triangle slices. Mince the garlic, parsley and lovage (if using) and mix together in a bowl with lemon slices, lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar. Drain the shallots and add to the bowl. Add cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
This Meyer Lemon Relish takes about 15 minutes to make and is well worth your time. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days so if you think you will use it, you might want to double the recipe.
Serving ideas and variations:
Serve with grilled, roasted or braised chicken, fish, shrimp or scallops.
Thin with additional olive oil and use as a salad dressing
Use as a spread on a sandwich
Add some chopped green olives and serve as crostini topping
Serve as a condiment on a cheese and charcuterie board
Make with roasted lemons (Cut off the ends of the lemon, slice into 1/2 in rounds and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees 20-25 minutes. Look for brown spots but not burnt areas. Puree in a food processor with all other ingredients. If you have lemon juice that is not burnt (you might not have this), add that to the food processor as well.
Add bit of honey if you want a slight sweeter version.