Our 10 best lemon recipes

A fresh squeeze of lemon adds a bit­ter twist to clas­sic sweet tarts and sponge cakes, while prov­ing it­self to be the per­fect foil for rice or chicken in th­ese savoury soups and sal­ads

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page -


Not much beats this clas­sic pud – creamy, sweet, sharp and crumbly, in just the right amounts, it is the undis­puted queen of tarts.

Serves 10–12

140g un­salted but­ter, at room tem­per­a­ture

250g plain flour, plus ex­tra for dust­ing

100g ic­ing sugar

30g ground al­monds

A pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the fill­ing

5 eggs

4 egg yolks

375g caster sugar

300ml dou­ble cream

250ml lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)

1 Cut the but­ter into small pieces and put it into a large mix­ing bowl. Add the flour, then, us­ing your fin­ger­tips, rub the but­ter and flour to­gether un­til you have some­thing that looks like fine bread­crumbs.

2 Add the ic­ing sugar, ground al­monds and salt, then mix un­til you have a fine crum­ble. Add the egg and bring the dough to­gether with your hands. Pat into a roundish shape, dust with a lit­tle flour, then wrap in cling­film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. This re­laxes the gluten so you can roll the pas­try more eas­ily and it doesn’t shrink in the tin.

3 Pre­heat the oven to 210C/425F/gas mark 7. Line a deep 30cm tart tin with the pas­try and blind bake for about 15 min­utes or un­til firm. Re­move from the oven and set aside to cool.

4 Mean­while, put the fill­ing in­gre­di­ents into a large bowl and whisk to­gether with a bal­loon whisk. Set it aside to set­tle, prefer­ably overnight in the fridge.

5 Pre­heat the oven again to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Pour the mix­ture into the pas­try case, then put the tart tin on a bak­ing sheet and bake in the pre­heated oven for 1 hour.

Mar­got Hen­der­son, You’re All In­vited (Pen­guin)


Our go-to chicken lemon dish, this is also par­tic­u­larly good with apri­cots (when in sea­son), but just as de­li­cious made with­out them. The pota­toes cooked un­der the chicken ab­sorb all the juicy good­ness, with mint, lemon, sumac and chilli bring­ing bright notes to the ta­ble.

Serves 4-5

1kg chicken thighs (or, if you pre­fer, a whole chicken cut in pieces)

2–3 large pota­toes, peeled and cut into wedges

2 red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each

1 head of gar­lic, bro­ken into cloves but not peeled

1 lemon, cut in wedges

8–10 fresh apri­cots, halved (op­tional)

2 tsp salt

For the mari­nade

2 tbsp dried mint

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp black pep­per

2 tbsp olive oil

For the lemon and mint salsa

2 pre­served lemons, chopped

1 small bunch of mint, picked and roughly chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sumac

1 Mix all the mari­nade in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them thor­oughly in the mix­ture. Cover the bowl and trans­fer to the fridge to mar­i­nate for at least 1 hour, but it’s bet­ter to leave it for sev­eral hours if you have time.

2 Pre­heat the oven to 210C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the pre­pared veg­eta­bles and fruit in a large roast­ing tray and place the chicken pieces on top. Sprin­kle the sea salt all over. Roast in the top of the oven for 20 min­utes, then mix ev­ery­thing around a lit­tle, mak­ing sure the fruit and veg­eta­bles get coated in the fat at the bot­tom of the tray. Re­turn to the oven for a fur­ther 10–15 min­utes un­til ev­ery­thing is golden and crisp.

3 While the chicken is cooking, mix the salsa in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a small bowl. Spoon over the hot chicken pieces be­fore serv­ing. Ita­mar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Honey and Co (Salt­yard)


This very sim­ple, deeply savoury rice dish is lifted by the juice of no less than three lemons. Serve with a dol­lop of yo­ghurt.

Serves 4–6

400g bas­mati rice 3 tbsp veg­etable or corn oil 1 tbsp mus­tard seeds 1 tbsp chana dhal (split yel­low chick­peas) 1 tsp white urad lentils (op­tional) 20 fresh curry leaves 1 tsp ground turmeric 1½ tsp salt Juice of 3 lemons

1 Wash the rice in plenty of cold wa­ter, then leave it to soak in more clean, cold wa­ter. Drain. Bring 1 litre of wa­ter to the boil in a saucepan and add the rice. Cook un­cov­ered, for 8–10 min­utes, un­til the grains are

ten­der, then drain and set aside. 2 Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mus­tard seeds, chana dhal and urad lentils, and let them crackle. When the dhal and lentils start to turn golden, add the curry leaves and turmeric, and stir for 1 minute. You could need to sprin­kle in wa­ter to pre­vent the turmeric burning.

3 Add the cooked rice, salt and lemon juice and toss gen­tly to mix. Serve im­me­di­ately. Vivek Singh, cin­na­mon­club.com


Molten lemon curd erupts from th­ese six, light lemony sponges. Serve with a dol­lop of creme fraiche. The left­over lemon curd is great swirled through yo­ghurt.

Makes 6

For the sponge

100g soft un­salted but­ter, plus ex­tra for greas­ing

80g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp for dust­ing

2 eggs

2 tbsp whole milk

Zest of 3 lemons

100g plain flour

For the lemon curd

Juice of 3 lemons (about 110ml) 200g caster sugar 2 eggs A pinch of sea salt 50g cold un­salted but­ter, cubed

1 Place all the in­gre­di­ents for the lemon curd, apart from the but­ter, in a medium saucepan on a gen­tle heat and whisk con­tin­u­ously for 5-8 min­utes, or un­til the mix­ture thick­ens.

2 Whisk in the but­ter, cube by cube. Take off the heat once all the but­ter has com­pletely melted. Pour into a wide bowl and cool for around 20-30 min­utes, or un­til it reaches room tem­per­a­ture. Pour into a dis­pos­able pip­ing bag or a heavy-duty food bag, and re­frig­er­ate un­til ready for use.

3 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. But­ter six ramekins and dust them with sugar.

4 To make the sponge, beat the but­ter and sugar un­til fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs and grad­u­ally add them to the mix, beat­ing all the time, fol­lowed by the milk and lemon zest.

5 Sift the flour into the mix and in­cor­po­rate well. Divide the cake bat­ter be­tween the ramekins un­til each is just over half full.

6 Take the pip­ing or food bag and snip off the cor­ner. In­sert the tip into the cen­tre of each bat­ter-filled ramekin. Pipe the curd into each one un­til the ramekins are two-thirds full. Place them on a bak­ing tray.

7 Bake for 15-20 min­utes, or un­til the tops are golden and spring back when touched.

8 Im­me­di­ately run a knife around the edges of the cakes be­fore turn­ing out from the ramekins on to plates. Serve straight away.

Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Note­book (Michael Joseph)


This bright, cit­russy oil is a won­der­ful condi­ment to driz­zle over a bowl of grains, roast veg or a med­ley of green leaves.

Makes around 500ml

A few sprigs of thyme 1 head of gar­lic 3 strips of lemon zest 500ml olive oil

1 First, dry the thyme by putting the herbs on a bak­ing tray lined with bak­ing parch­ment and plac­ing it in an oven set to 110C/225F/gas mark ¼, or on the low­est set­ting you have. Leave the door slightly ajar and bake for about 20 min­utes. Re­move and set aside.

2 Re­move and peel all the cloves from the head of the gar­lic. Put the gar­lic, lemon zest and olive oil in a wide, heavy bot­tomed saucepan. Warm the oil, zest and gar­lic over a very low heat set­ting, never bring­ing it to a sim­mer, for about 30 min­utes.

3 Leave the oil to cool be­fore de­cant­ing it into a jar along with the dried thyme. It will keep for about 2 weeks. Georgina Hart­ley, fromthe­larder.co.uk


Pre­served lemon brings a fra­grant shard of cit­rus to aro­matic tagines, warm sal­ads or even a twist on ce­viche.

Makes 1 bowl

4 lemons 1 tbsp sea salt 2 tsp sugar ½ tsp dill or co­rian­der seeds, lightly toasted A pinch of chilli flakes (op­tional)

1 Slice two of the lemons as thinly as you can. Juice the other two lemons and mix the juice with the salt and sugar.

2 Ar­range the lemon slices on the bot­tom of a Tup­per­ware dish and pour the sea­soned lemon juice over the top. Sprin­kle over the seeds and flakes if us­ing. Leave to rest overnight. The lemons will last for up to a month if fully sub­merged. Olia Her­cules, oli­a­her­cules.com


Lemon juice and zest pep up this as­sem­blage of melt-in-the-mouth but­ter beans and crum­bled cheese. Serve on gar­lic-rubbed toast or along­side lamb chops.

Serves 2

1 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, plus a driz­zle

1 red onion, sliced

½ tsp chilli flakes

400g can of but­ter beans, drained

A hand­ful of black olives, stoned, drained and torn


100g baby spinach

100g feta, crum­bled

Juice and zest 1 lemon

½ gar­lic clove, crushed

Salt and black pep­per

1 Heat the olive oil in a large fry­ing pan over a medium high heat, add the onion and fry for 2 min­utes, un­til just start­ing to cook. Add the chilli flakes, but­ter beans and olives. Stir and al­low to heat through.

2 Put the spinach on to serv­ing plates or a plat­ter. Tip the but­ter-bean mix on top and toss to com­bine the in­gre­di­ents. Crum­ble over the feta.

3 Mix the lemon zest and juice with the gar­lic, some sea­son­ing and an ex­tra glug of oil. Pour this over the salad and serve im­me­di­ately.

Rosie Reynolds, rosiereynolds.co.uk


This Mediter­ranean soup is a beau­ti­fully restora­tive com­bi­na­tion of egg and lemon. Serve it plain and sim­ple, as be­low, or al­ter­na­tively, throw a hand­ful of cooked orzo and picked chicken into the pan for a more sub­stan­tial meal.

Serves 4

1.2 litres chicken stock

4 eggs

Juice of 1 large lemon

Thin slices of lemon and sprigs of dill, to gar­nish

1 Bring the chicken stock to the boil. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the lemon juice.

2 Grad­u­ally add a lit­tle of the stock to the eggs, beat­ing well. Re­turn to the pan and cook un­til it is the con­sis­tency of a thin custard – but be care­ful not to let it get any­where near boil­ing point.

3 Serve hot or chilled: hot it tastes more chick­eny; cold, more lemony. Ei­ther way, float a thin slice of lemon in the bowl and top with a feath­ery sprig of dill. Mar­garet Costa, Four Sea­sons Cook­ery Book (Grub Street)


An old-fash­ioned cooler made from the cooking liquor left over from a pot of boiled bar­ley. See our 10 best bar­ley recipes for an idea of what to do with the grains ...

Makes about 2 litres

225g pearl bar­ley

2.5 litres wa­ter

Zest and juice of 5 lemons

200g caster sugar

A hand­ful of mint sprigs

1 Rinse the pearl bar­ley, cover with the wa­ter and bring to the boil, then re­duce the heat and cook gen­tly for up to 1 hour or un­til the bar­ley has be­come ten­der.

2 Mean­while, place the zest in a bowl with the caster sugar. Take the cooked bar­ley and strain, pour­ing the liq­uid over the lemon zest and sugar, stir­ring so all the sugar dis­solves.

Let the liq­uid and lemon zest steep for an hour, or un­til cooled. Then add the lemon juice and some sprigs of mint. Store in the fridge and ei­ther drink neat or add wa­ter to taste. This will keep in the fridge, cov­ered, for a day or so. Ian James, Ni­cholas Selby and Louisa Chap­man-An­drews: Mel­rose and Mor­gan’s Good Food For Your Ta­ble (Salt­yard)


The sim­plic­ity of this dish and strong dis­parate flavours war­rant high qual­ity in­gre­di­ents. If you can, seek out amalfi lemons, which are good enough to eat raw like an ap­ple, and use whole Span­ish an­chovies packed in salt. This salad can be served warm or at room tem­per­a­ture.

Serves 4

1 un­waxed or­ganic lemon 400g pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli, largest stems cut in half length­ways 2 sprigs rose­mary, picked 2 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 2 whole an­chovies packed in salt, fil­lets care­fully re­moved, torn into large pieces

Salt and black pep­per

1 Pre­heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Cut the lemon into thin slices. Be sure to use the lemon tops and bot­toms too – the pith tastes ab­so­lutely de­li­cious once it’s been prop­erly roasted.

Toss the lemon slices, pur­ple sprout­ing

2 broc­coli and rose­mary leaves in the olive oil along with a lit­tle salt and black pep­per. Spread the slices evenly over a bak­ing tray so they cook evenly in the oven. Roast for about 15-20 min­utes un­til charred, but not too soft. Re­move and set aside.

3 When you are ready to eat, ar­range the lemon and broc­coli on a large plat­ter scat­tered with the an­chovies.

Tom Hunt, The Nat­u­ral Cook (Quadrille)


5, 6


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