50 Creative Lemon Recipes for a Bold, Bright, and Citrusy Summer

Local author Ellen Jackson's new The Lemon Cookbook is a love song to the little yellow kitchen marvels.

By Allison Jones June 23, 2015

"A lemon's unapologetic acidity imparts an intense freshness as vital to coaxing good flavor from your cooking as salt." So begins local cookbook scribe Ellen Jackson's 50-recipe, breakfast-through-dessert tribute to her favorite citrus. In the remaining 144 pages of this year's new Lemon Cookbook, Jackson reveals little-known secrets about lemon varieties, tips for juicing, peeling, and zesting, and showcases the little yellow guys in everything from lemon meringue whoopie pies filled with lemon curd to grilled flank steak with charred lemon chimichurri. Whether you're looking to fire up the grill, infuse your own mouth-puckering limoncello, or cool down with a lemon buttermilk panna cotta with lemon verbena and blackberries, this cookbook will carry you through all of summer's parties, potlucks, and picnics. 

Oregon is already producing olive oil—it's only a matter of time before global warming brings citrus this far north. With the Lemon Cookbook, you'll be ready. Here, Jackson shares her recipe for three bright summer salads that use lemons in creative ways. Dig in!

Image: John Valls

Summer Tomato and Green Bean Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette 

"This salad, simply dressed in a zippy, herbaceous vinaigrette, showcases the best of summer. Serve it with grilled fish, or skip the ricotta salata and add good-quality canned tuna and a few boiled potatoes for a quick niçoise salad." Makes 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons finely minced shallot 
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped soft herbs such as parsley, basil, tarragon, and chives 
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest 
  • ½ Preserved Lemon (recipe follows), flesh discarded and peel finely chopped 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 pints mixed cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed 
  • 2 ounces ricotta salata cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler 

To make the vinaigrette, in a small, nonreactive bowl, combine the shallots and lemon juice with the salt. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the shallots to soften and sweeten slightly. Then, add the mustard and honey, and slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Stir in the herbs, lemon zest, and preserved lemon, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with ½ cup vinaigrette and set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes, or until you’re ready to serve the salad. 

While the tomatoes marinate, bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the beans until they’re just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain them in a colander and cool the beans by running them under cold water briefly. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with a clean towel. Set aside until completely cool and dry.  

Just before serving, add the beans and ricotta salata shavings to the tomatoes and vinaigrette. Toss to combine the ingredients, add the remaining vinaigrette and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes before serving. 

Preserved Lemons

"Having tried a number of methods for preserving lemons over the years, I think I’ve finally landed on a favorite. The initial period of marinating in salt is transformative, removing any bitterness and replacing it with pure lemon, with a soft texture and pickled flavor. Recipes typically allow one month for this step, but I’ve found a week is a great start when the lemons are first cut into eighths. They continue to mellow and age in the refrigerator, where they will keep for six months or more. You’ll soon discover that preserved lemons deserve a place of honor among your favorite condiments and find yourself looking for places to include their uniquely exotic flavor. Try them in stews, salads, sauces, and vinaigrettes." Makes 6 preserved lemons, cut into eighths

  • 1 dozen small lemons (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Fill a 1-quart canning jar with boiling water. Let the water sit for 1 minute; drain the jar and invert it on a clean towel to dry. Slice off and discard the stem and blossom ends of 6 of the lemons and cut them length-wise into eighths. Put the wedges in a nonreactive bowl. Juice the remaining lemons; you should end up with about 1 cup of juice. Set the juice aside.

Add the salt to the bowl and toss the lemon sections to coat before packing them into the jar. As you fill the jar, add the salt from the bowl, evenly distributing it throughout the jar. Cover the lemons with the juice, leaving ½ inch of headroom between the juice and nonreactive lid. Let the lemons sit at room temperature for a week. Shake the jar every day to redistribute the salt and juice. After a week, add oil to cover and refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Image: John Valls

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Lemon and Marjoram

"Though you could also use mint or oregano, marjoram—oregano’s soft-spoken little sister—pairs especially well with zucchini in this simple salad. Salting the zucchini before assembling the salad causes it to wilt slightly and gives it enough flavor to stand up to the plucky lemon-forward dressing. Don’t let it sit too long, however, or the zucchini will get squishy and wet, and lose any texture it once had. Long, thin shavings of Pecorino Romano or another salty sheep’s milk cheese, made with a vegetable peeler, are a nice finishing touch." Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1½ pounds (about 3 to ?4 small) zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise on?a mandolin or with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced on a mandolin or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
  • Pecorino Romano cheese shavings, for garnish (optional)

In a colander sitting over a bowl or in the sink, combine the zucchini ribbons and salt. Toss well to coat the ribbons and set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, gather up the zucchini in several large handfuls, and gently squeeze some of the moisture out of each.

In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice with the shallot and a small pinch of salt. Add the zest and whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in the marjoram and add the zucchini ribbons to the bowl, tossing to evenly coat them. Serve immediately, topped with the cheese shavings. 

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon–Brown Butter Vinaigrette

"Think of this salad as a hearty slaw, brightened with chunks of creamy avocado and nutty sunflower seeds. If you’re so inclined, it’s good with a little bit of citrus: sections of pink grapefruit, blood orange, or tangerine are all delicious additions." Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 small bunches lacinato kale (about 1 pound), stems removed and leaves sliced into thin ribbons
  • 8 ounces brussels sprouts (about 12 to 16), halved and thinly sliced
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ? cup freshly  squeezed lemon juice (from ?2 medium lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

In a large bowl, combine the kale, brussels sprouts, and onion. Set the salad aside while you brown the butter.

In a small, light-colored pan that allows you to see the color of the butter, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it occasionally to ensure it melts evenly. It?will begin to foam and change color, from light yellow ?to golden brown to a slightly darker, toasty brown that smells nutty. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a small heatproof bowl. The milk solids will have settled to the bottom of the pan and browned; leave as much of that sediment behind as possible. Set the butter aside.

In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine the vinegar and lemon juice with the zest, shallot, and a big pinch ?of salt. Whisk the oil into the warm butter and add the honey. Slowly drizzle the mixture into the vinegar and lemon juice, whisking constantly, until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. 

*Recipes (c)2015 By Ellen Jackson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from The Lemon Cookbook: 50 Sweet & Savory Recipes to Brighten Every Meal by permission of Sasquatch Books. 

Filed under
Show Comments