Fruit of the Week: Citrus
Updated: Apr 18
One of the things Monrovia is known for is our many citrus trees all over town. We love the recipes this week because they use a bounty of citrus and different pantry ingredients in creative ways. They also provide ways to preserve your citrus either in bread that you can freeze or simply storing the juice in your freezer. The recipes are meant to be easy and hopefully you have a number of these items on hand.
You probably know that citrus is a great source of vitamin C, but vitamin C also helps absorb other nutrients. It is high in fiber and has a low glycemic level which means citrus won’t spike your blood sugar levels as quickly as other fruits. Citrus is high in potassium and has a large water content with it being 87% water. Citrus fruits also contain B6 and other B vitamins thiamin and niacin. Most of all, it's delicious. And this week we are featuring some storage tips as well as three delicious ways to use citrus: Citrus Breakfast loaf, Lemon Curd, and Grilled Lemon Vegetable and Chicken Pasta (or rice) Bowls. This last recipe also has a marinade/dressing that can be used with multiple dishes as well as the amazing-ness of grilled lemons!
Firstly, always store citrus in the refrigerator. Citrus begins to dry itself out as soon as it is picked from the tree. Keeping it in your fridge slows this process.
Other ways to store citrus include freezing the zest. After using a grater or microplane grater as seen in the picture, you can simply put the zest on parchment or wax paper and then place in a plastic bag to freeze. Be careful to just get the colorful part of the rind and not the white part as that part is more bitter. The next time a recipe calls for zest, you can retrieve the amount you need from the freezer!
Another way to use a bounty of lemons especially, is to juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for those times when only a tablespoon or two of lemon juice is needed.
Citrus breakfast loaf
½ cup butter or coconut oil for dairy free option
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup milk (or dairy-free alternative)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice or Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest or Orange Zest
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oven to 350
2. Grease or spray a 9x4 loaf pan
3. Cream butter and sugar
4. Beat in eggs and lemon juice and milk
5. Combine flour and lemon zest and mix in to butter egg mixture
6. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. When cool, can also put an optional glaze over the top by mixing ½ cup powdered sugar and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (or orange juice). But it is good without it too!
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
Prepare a double broiler and if you do not have one, it's very easy to DIY this with a pasta pot and heat proof bowl that sits on top (see picture). Mix together the sugar, lemon juice, zest, and eggs. When the water is simmering, keep it at a simmer and put the bowl on top of the water. It is important the water doesn't touch the bowl. Once the bowl is warm, add the mix and butter, whisking continuously for about six minutes or until the curd has lines that stay in it from the whisk. Transfer it to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool. Enjoy! Will keep in fridge for 2 weeks.
(We experimented with Orange Curd as well but it wasn't as tasty. Will update the recipes if we make one we like.)
Grilled Lemon Vegetable and Chicken Pasta or Rice Bowls (serves 4)
It might seem like this recipe has a lot going on, but it is made with everyday pantry items. My family likes to call this garbage pail pasta as most things that are sitting in the fridge make their way into the dish - but it definitely doesn't taste like garbage. The marinade and grilled lemons can be used with other salads, pastas, and proteins as well.
1/3 cup lemon juice
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs you have on hand or 1 teaspoon dried. We liked oregano with this. But try basil, thyme, rosemary or a combination.
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix lemon juice with garlic and herbs, whisk in olive oil beginning with 1/3 cup and adjusting to liking- adding more herbs or the additional olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Pasta and Grilled Lemons
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
2 sliced zucchini or yellow squash sliced on the long side.
2-3 cups halved brussel sprouts
(Feel free to use other veggies on hand - cauliflower, corn, mushrooms, green beans, even carrots would work here)
1 lb chicken breast (leave out for vegetarian option)
8 oz of pasta (any kind) or prepare 1 1/2 cups of rice
2 lemons halved and take the seeds out
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 hour before cooking, marinade the chicken with 1/2 of the marinade.
While it sits, prepare veggies and place in a large bowl. Mix with other 1/2 of marinade and let sit for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
Heat grill or prepare an indoor grill or skillet.
Prepare your rice or pasta according to package instructions.
Place chicken on grill turning it halfway through cooking time until internal temp is 170. Cooking chicken depends on the size of the cut. This can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 10 minutes each side. Check with a meat thermometer to see if it's done. (You can also cook the chicken in the oven or skillet until done.)
Grill veggies at same time as chicken using a veggie grill tray on your BBQ or cooking them on the stove in a skillet. Larger veggies like corn or sliced zucchini can be placed right on the grill. Turn and flip them after about 3-5 minutes. Remove them when they are start to brown.
When chicken is done and resting, brush the halved lemons with olive oil and place citrus face down on grill. They will caramelize and brown while cooking about 2-4 minutes depending on how hot your grill is. It will look like they drained a bit; that's okay.
Slice the chicken for the bowls and assemble by mixing together the pasta (or rice) with the veggies and placing the chicken on top. Place a grilled lemon on top and squeeze over the top of the bowl right before serving. Season with a little extra olive oil, salt and pepper if needed.
NOTE: The grilled lemons can be used over steak and seafood dishes as well.