Citrus fruits — lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, kiwi, grapefruit and other fruits — offer many health benefits. Vitamin C is a key component of these fruits and helps to keep one healthy from colds and other ailments. The fruits are easy to eat and drink and are easy to prepare in recipes from pasta and rice, to breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, jams, salads, scampi, brined or even frozen lemons. Here are just a few recipes that you might enjoy.
For a mess-free quick fish dish, arrange lemon slices in an 8 x 8 inch baking pan; add ½ cup water. Top with four 6-ounce skinless fillets like salmon or tilapia, cod, or haddock. Cover and microwave on High for 7-8 minutes or until just opaque in the center. Top fish with a pat of butter and some capers, if desired, or a chopped up mango.
Pasta with Lemon and Basil
Serves 4. More lemon may be added If a stronger flavor is desired.
10 ounces dried bow ties pasta or farfalle, or any other desired pasta
1 19-ounce can white kidney (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
½ of one fresh lemon, using rind and juice
3 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil
¾ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn or chopped, packed
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
Prepare pasta according to package directions, adding cannellini beans for the last 2- minutes of cooking time. Remove ½ cup of the cooking liquid, set aside. Drain pasta and beans; cover to keep warm and set aside.
Finely shred peel from the lemon half, about 2-3 teaspoons. In a small skillet heat 1-tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add lemon peel; cook and stir for 1-minute, or until lightly golden.
In a blender or food processor combine cooked lemon peel, fresh basil, and 2-tablespoons olive oil, the juice from the lemon half, a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cover and process until smooth. Add ½ cup reserved cooking liquid, a little at a time, until desired consistency is obtained, processing mixture after every addition.
When ready to serve, toss hot cooked pasta with lemon-basil mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Orange Shrimp Scampi
Serves 4. Scallops may be substituted in this recipe.
¾ pound angel-hair pasta or any other light weight pasta
2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil
1 pound fresh large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced then smashed
2 oranges, juiced yielding 1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley (I like the accent taste of the cilantro.)
Orange wedges for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired
Cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water, set aside. Keep pasta covered and warm
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook until opaque throughout or it just turns pink, about 3-minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a warm plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add butter and garlic to skillet and sauté garlic for about 2 minutes. Add orange juice and cook for one minute, add reserved cooking juice for desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro or parsley. Add pasta and shrimp and toss to combine well.
Serve hot with orange wedges and some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Cook’s Hint: Tangerines or lemons may be substituted for the oranges, if desired.
Easy Orange-Pineapple Freezer Preserves
Makes 4 (1/2-pint) jars for the freezer
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 ½ cups chopped and pitted orange sections (about 5-6 medium oranges)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
2 0.6-ounce packages instant pectin
In a medium glass bowl stir together sugar, chopped orange, lemon juice, and crushed pineapple. Mix well and let stand for 20 minutes.
Gradually stir in pectin; stir for 3-4 minutes. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Spoon mixture into clean (1/2 pint) jars or other freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, label and freeze standing upright. Store in freezer for up to 1-year. Thaw completely about one day or overnight in refrigerator before using. Refrigerate after thawing and use within 3 weeks.
Cook’s Hint: Tangerines or Mandarin oranges may be substituted for oranges.
Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
This is a delightful lemon cake that has a rich citrusy flavor. Pre-cooking the lemons removes the pucker taste and makes for an intensely lemon flavored cake. Poppy Seeds may be omitted, if desired.
1 ½ sticks butter (3/4 cup), room temperature, plus more for greasing cake pan
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for cake pan
4 lemons, ends removed, cut into thin slices
3 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, 2-inches deep. Set aside.
In a saucepan, cover lemon slices with 3- cups water. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil lemon slices, partially covered, until very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add butter and process until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed. Add sugar and eggs; process to combine; stir in poppy seeds, mix well, then transfer mixture to a large bowl.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Measure milk in a liquid measuring cup and stir in vanilla. In 2-additons, add flour mixture to lemon mixture, alternating with milk.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth top with back of a spoon. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on wire rack for at least 2-hours. Store cooled cake, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 1-day or freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve whipped cream, if desired.
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a small bowl combine sugar and lemon juice. While cake is still warm on the cooling wire rack over a plate, spoon the glaze over the top of warm cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.
Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.