January 22, 2016
Vol. VIII No. 2
The Power of Citrus
Citrus fruits like pink grapefruits, bright yellow lemons, and bite-sized clementines have the power to transform a dish from ordinary to irresistible by bringing out hidden flavors, adding zing, and contributing color. And, their power comes in three forms: zest, juice, and flesh (as in the salad pictured above). 

Citrus in all of its forms, along with vinegars, yogurt, and sour cream, add acidity, a critical component to the flavor balance of food. Cooking a well-flavored meal requires balancing acidity and sourness with sweetness, bitterness, salt, and spice, and is the key to creating delicious dishes you'll want to come back to again and again. Citrus can be used to save dishes that are too bitter, spicy, or sweet, and can enhance salty flavors. No need to settle for a bland, boring dish when there are options, like a squeeze of citrus, available to you to change it. Keep a bowl of citrus fruits on hand for easy access.

Mediterranean foods are ripe with citrus flavors. Moroccans squeeze lemon juice over their couscous, Spaniards use it to make ceviche, and Greeks add it to their famous egg-and-lemon soup, avgolemono. In Sicily, famous for its blood oranges, Sicilians make a simple salad with blood orange slices, red onions, and a drizzle of olive oil. Poultry is often baked with sliced lemons, clementines, or oranges to add concentrated sweet flavor and tang.

Here are just a few of the many dishes that benefit from citrus in all forms:
  • Salad dressings: use citrus juice instead of or in combination with vinegar. Try adding zest too.
  • Water and tea: add a few drops of lemon juice or a slice to your cup.
  • Baked poultry and fish: sliced citrus is an easy garnish and works well in the oven. Stuff a whole chicken with half a lemon, or simply bake it with slices on top. Be sure to remove the seeds first! 
  • Meat marinades: citrus juice is a natural tenderizer.
  • Soups and sauces: once they are finished cooking and off the heat, squeeze some juice on top for a cheery finish. Be careful with creamy concoctions however, as too much juice may cause them to curdle. 
For more ideas, check out our 12 Great Ways to Use Citrus and the recipes below. 

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe.

This cake is packed with citrus: the zest and juice of two lemons go into the batter, extra lemon zest is used to make the frosting, and glazed lemon slices are an optional, impressive garnish on top. That's three lemons total! The recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil in place of butter, adding another Mediterranean flavor to the mix. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of GAEA

Carpaccio is an Italian appetizer made of thinly sliced raw meat (typically beef) or fish. This recipe is a vegetarian version, with zucchini as the main ingredient. Just like the classic meat version, the sliced zucchini are flavored with lemon juice, olive oil, and shaved hard cheese. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Mediterra

Keep this recipe on file for summer, when eggplants, zucchini, and bell peppers reach their peak flavor. It comes from Corfu, an island off of Greece's northwest coast. Don't rush roasting the vegetables; they need to be blistered and slightly blackened for maximum flavor. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of Positively Good For You.

by Claudia Roden
In her enchanting book, Arabesque, Claudia Roden revisits Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon for culinary inspiration. Interweaving history, stories, and her own observations, she gives us 150 of the most delectable recipes. Some of them are new discoveries, some are re-workings of classic dishes, and all of them are accessible and delicious for today's home cook.
by Rawia Bishara
Rawia Bishara opened her restaurant Tanoreen in Brooklyn, NY to honor her mother and her imaginative cooking as well as the rich Middle Eastern gastronomic culture that is rarely experienced outside the region. The 135 recipes in this book are flexible enough to accommodate both adventurous and traditional palates. 
by Bethany Kehdy
For the past five years, Lebanese-American Bethany Kehdy has sought to demystify Middle Eastern food through her blog, Dirty Kitchen Secrets, and her Taste of Lebanon tours. In her debut book, she provides 100+ new recipes that will introduce you to the wonders of the Middle East, from wholesome stews to exotic casseroles. 

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit: