In Praise of Lemon Zest

We're deep into a lemon kick right now, so we thought we'd take a moment to craft an ode to our current favorite darling. We just can't seem to get enough of that clean, tart flavor! How do you use lemon zest in your cooking?

Lemon juice has long been one of our secret ingredients for perking up dishes and adding a balancing splash of acidity. But it wasn't until this current bout of lemon obsession that we truly started appreciating lemon zest for itself. It's so versatile! Zest feels equally appropriate in a marinade for fish, a pasta salad, or a summery fruit dessert.

Zest has a certain depth that the juice lacks. In a simmered sauce or a braise like Jamie Oliver's chicken, lemon zest mellows out and adds an almost floral note. Grated over the top of a finished pasta dish, the zest heats up just enough to perfume the entire plate.

We've also been zesting lemons directly into our salads. The raw zest definitely has a more upfront flavor, but we love the bitter zing we get in every bite. It's especially nice when paired with a robust, fruity olive oil.

And of course, zest is essential for making truly lemony desserts, like our lemon ice cream and lemon spongettes. Those made with just the juice seem to somehow lack true lemony-ness, but just a few teaspoons of zest add exactly the depth and lemon flavor that we're looking for.

Are you a fan of lemon zest?

Related: Tip: Five Ways to Use Naked Lemons

(Image: Flickr member foodista licensed under Creative Commons)

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