What the heck is lemon zest, you ask? The zest of any citrus is the colored outer layer of the peel. It has the oils and bright pop of flavor that you get from the fruit. Knowing how to zest a lemon, or lime, or orange is an easy skill that can take you far.
Why would you want just the zest you ask? Here’s a couple of reasons: You can get lemon, lime, tangerine or orange flavor into any recipe without adding the liquid. You can add a little pop of bright color to your recipe. With just the use of a microplane, one of my favorite kitchen tools, zesting a lemon is a snap!
Here’s my quick tutorial video How to Zest a lemon
In addition to using a microplane, which creates a super-finely grated zest. you can use this type of zester (below). This zester creates long strands that look beautiful as a garnish. We eat with our eyes first, so take the extra seconds to add strong pop of color (and flavor) to your dishes that may look blah on the plate,
How to use Lemon Zest
All the ways I love to use lemon, lime and orange zest I couldn’t list them all. But here are some of my favorite ways.
Baking with Lemon Zest
Zests are great in baking because they doesn’t require any adjustments to the recipe. If you start adding an acidy liquid, a lot can go wrong. Baking is all about math and chemical reactions and I try not to mess with a good recipe. So, without changing a thing, add it to your favorite cake, muffin or cookie recipe.
This gluten-free lemon cake recipe uses lemon zest and and a little extract to give this cake a huge lemon flavor! I know that some people add lemon juice to their cakes, but the acid and liquid was changing the cake texture, so I stuck with the zest and it is one of my favorite cakes of all time.
Pasta, Rice and Quinoa
Want a simple dish? Lemon zest, olive oil, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and salt. That’s it! Toss with cooked pasta, rice or quinoa for an easy weekday side dish.
Want another simple dish? Heat one can coconut milk with the zest of one lime, salt, a drop of sweetener and lots of grated fresh ginger . . . Done! Pour over noodles, rice or quinoa for a Thai inspired dish.
How about one more simple dish? Sautee the zest of one orange with, chopped garlic, 2 tsps toasted sesame oil, 1 Tbsp soy sauce and fresh grated ginger for 30 seconds. Stir into 1 1/2 c cooked rice or quinoa for an easy Asian inspired dish.
Chicken and Fish
Lemon Chicken or Fish – Combine the zest of one lemon with 1 Tbsp olive oil salt and pepper and pour over cooked chicken.
Orange Teriyaki – Combine the zest & juice of one orange with 2 tsps soy sauce or coconut aminos, 2 tsps toasted sesame oil, a few drops of sweetener (agave, maple syrup, sugar). Brush onto the chicken or fish during the last few minutes of cooking.
Questions? Need help with your cooking skills? Contact me!