I have always loved lemons. When I was little, so I am told, I used to grab any little piece of one and suck out the juice. I still do it now because I love their sharp taste, the way they almost make you wince with both pleasure and pain. This weekend I bought six of them (a bargain at £1 in my local Turkish shop) which was a bit bonkers since I’ll never use them all in a week but I find something quite reassuring about having loads of them in the fruit bowl. I can imagine making a lemon cake, a risotto or squeezing them over fish and half the fun is the anticipation of such delights even if I don’t quite manage to make them.
One thing that bothers me about cooking is waste and if a recipe requires the juice of a lemon, but not the zest, it annoys me. Once juiced, it’s impossible to zest the fruit and it seems mad to lose such a wonderful ingredient. I get round this with salad dressing by adding both the juice and the zest but I have been trying to think of other ways to avoid the waste. And it struck me this weekend that I might as well always zest the fruit, whether I was planning to use it or not, because then at least it’s in the fridge not the compost. Once I’d decided this, and had a couple of teaspoonfuls of zest sitting in a bowl, I remembered something called gremolata, a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. A traditional garnish for the Italian stew, osso bucco, a bit of net and cook book research revealed that it is also a perfect summer dressing for grilled fish or meat and dead easy too. I made mine in all of, ooh, two minutes, and it will now be gracing some grilled chicken. A sauce that can turn food into dinner, with barely any effort or shopping, and uses up a favourite ingredient? Perfect on all levels.
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic, 1 clove
flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon
lemon zest, 1 teaspoon (so about half a lemon; the one I used gave me 2 teaspoons but, obviously, this will differ depending on the fruit)
Not sure this merits a recipe. Peel and chop the garlic, rinse the parsley and chop it and mix them both with the lemon zest. Sprinkle over grilled chicken or fish, stuff into some sardines before you cook them, add as an extra topping to fish soup…I’m not going to insult your intelligence by going any further!