Eating in the Season: Lemons

Last night we honored the lemon at our dinner table.  Everything on our plate had lemon in it.  It was not only a delicious feast but featured foods that were actually in season.  Eating in season is important to the homesteader because we grow what we eat.  Of course I splurge and go to the store to get grapes in the dead of winter, and I am pretty sure those grapes have traveled more than I did all last year.  But when we can we try to eat with the season.

It not only saves lots of money but it can be a fun challenge.  I have heard that in the south of Italy where they rely on a mainly vegetarian diet they eat strictly by the seasons.  They do this because that’s what they can afford and that’s what their culture values.  When a particular vegetable is in season it will inevitably work it’s way into breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We found this was true last year when we had a bumper crop of zucchinis.  I was scrounging around begging friends for zucchini recipes.  Basically I was not prepared.  So this year I want to work at expanding my vegetable recipe collection.

One of the first ways we tried this out was with lemons.  I love lemons.  I think all food would be disastrous without salt, onions and lemons.  These guys never get the attention they deserve.  They are a staple in my kitchen and I use them often.  In the winter I like to drink hot water with lemon squeezed in.  It is so soothing.  Lemons are in season here and my grandparents have a tree so we get them for free.  They aren’t Meyer lemons which are my favorite but they are  still delicious.  We hope this menu inspires you to honor a local ingredient.  We sure had fun with this themed dinner.

Here’s the menu:

Grilled chicken marinated in lemon, thyme and tarragon, recipe follows

Grilled locally grown purple asparagus with a squeeze of lemon

Creamy lemon pasta from the Pioneer Woman

Baby greens with shaved parmesan and lemon vinigrette

Grilled ciabatta bread (this had no added lemon but it was great with the lemon pasta sauce)

Lemon cake with lemon glaze, recipe coming in a few days, when I make this delicious cake again

Grilled chicken marinated in lemon, thyme and tarragon

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 lemon juiced

splash of vinegar (any kind works)

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

heavy sprinkle of dried tarragon

First cut chicken in half to make them more thin.  You should have 4 thin breasts when you are done.  Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl and toss in chicken.  Add a hefty sprinkle of salt and several grinds of pepper.  Let marinade for a couple of hours.  Have your husband grill the chicken.  Robert’s grilling motto is “low and slow” so these thin breasts took about 20 minutes.


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