Zest for Life!

If life hands you lemons…well for goodnes sake use them to add flavor to your food.

Lemon 006Lemon zest – do you use it?  I really think you should.

It is one of the easiest, low cost healthy ways to add instant zing to just about anything you are going to eat.  It can liven up your steamed veggies or add a flourish of flavor to your sauces or plated meals.  It is actually one of my secret weapons in the kitchen.  Using citrus zest gives things a really nice finishing touch with such little effort.  Also, for those that may be avoiding citrus for any reason, by using the zest of the fruit you get a concentrated burst of flavor and zip from the essential oils but without the addition of acid or the addition of any liquid.

The easiest way to zest a lemon, or any citrus fruit is to use a microplane, shown below.  Forget the cumbersome way of using a citrus zester and skip the paring knife or vegetable peeler technique and go straight for a microplane.  By using this inexpensive kitchen tool you can easily get only the amount you want for your recipe or plate for that matter and it requires minimal strength or dexterity to use.  Also note that I call it a kitchen tool not gadget.  This is because a microplane is a multipurpose kitchen tool and can be used for a variety of tasks.


micro p 008If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a vegetable peeler to slice off thin strips and then chop finely. It’s just not as fun.









Here is a partial list of where/when to use lemon zest.

  • Pasta – anything that is not a ‘red sauce’.  Goes well with any olive oil base or cream sauce
  • Salad dressing – with or without the addition of lemon juice
  • Marinades for chicken, pork, lamb or any fish/seafood
  • As a garnish for any fish, or seafood
  • Amazing on any steamed green veg; asparagus, beans, broccoli
  • Sprinkled on after roasting any of the above green veg
  • With olive oil and fresh herbs for oven roasted potatoes
  • Stirred in at the end of risotto
  • Tapenades, gremolatas and fresh salsa, guacamole
  • Cakes, cookies, pies, frosting, lemon curd (of course)
  • Cocktails, mocktails and smoothies


Linguine with lemon zest and leeks

Serves 2

½ package linguine or spaghetti

1 leek, washed and sliced into rings or half moons

1 Tbs olive oil

1 – 2  lemons.  Remove all zest and set aside

2 Tbs shallots, or 1 Tbs garlic or ½ of an onion chopped

2 Tbs chopped parsley

1 tsp any other fresh herb on hand (thyme, rosemary, basil, fennel, dill) *optional*

Salt and pepper to taste

¾ cup parmesan cheese

Pinch of chili flakes *optional*

1 cup reserved pasta water

Additional olive oil

Bring water to boil, season with salt and add pasta.  Cook 1 min less than package directions.

Meanwhile, sauté leeks, shallots and lemon zest just until leeks are starting to brown.  Add a handful of fresh herbs, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and let rest until pasta is cooked.

Once pasta is just under the doneness you like; remove it from the boiling water using tongs or a pasta lifter.  Place strands of cooked pasta directly into the pan with the leeks.  Add remaining fresh herbs and chili flakes if using.

Then add ½ cup of pasta water  toss pasta well until water is absorbed.  If pasta seems dry, add more pasta water.  You want the strands of pasta loose, not stuck together.  When reached the desired consistency, add the parmesan cheese and a generous sprinkling of olive oil on top.

Place into warmed serving bowls and serve right away.

Arthritis Kitchen Tips:

Use organic lemons if you can and always be sure to wash your citrus fruit well before using.

Special note for anyone on medications to be mindful of grapefruit as this citrus is known to counter act with some meds.

About Arthritis Kitchen

Living Authentically - Striving for Wellness - Navigating Through Illness – Speaking from the Heart.

Posted on February 28, 2013, in Recipes / Cooking, Tips for Cooking with Arthritis. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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