As my cooking gets simpler and simpler, I rely on easily-created hits of flavor to dazzle. A favorite of late is roasted lemons, which I often throw into the oven as I’m making the rest of the meal. They liven up ANYTHING. A platter of roasted vegetables seems to gain in complexity with a pile of caramelized lemon slices added in; I’ll garnish a serving of a ragu with them for the recipient to cut up and weave bits in as they like. I’ve layered them onto sandwiches with tomatoes. They go instantly from savory to sweet, becoming a fine addition to many desserts (nut cakes, any citrus dessert, rice pudding, fruit tarts…) I frequently eat them as is as a candy-like sweet.
Place a bowl of them on the table and I guarantee your guests will find a way to delight in them, from soup to nuts.
Method: Roasted Lemons
You can use regular lemons or even better, Meyer lemons, which are chewier, more aromatic and a tad sweeter.
You can cook the lemons at almost any temperature, depending on what you have in the oven. Over 350′, the lemons will cook faster and have a greater chance of burning so watch them carefully after the first 15 minutes, lifting out darkening ones.
Makes about 12 slices per lemon
Regular or Meyer Lemons, preferably organic, washed
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350′.
Cut the stem ends off the lemons and discard. Using a thin, sharp knife, slice the lemons crosswise into thin slices a scant 1/8 inch thick. When you start to hit the seeds, remove them with the tip of the knife. When you get close to the end and whole slices become difficult to cut evenly, place the lemon cut side down on the work surface. Cut crosswise through the stem. Then place the stem side flat on the surface and continue cutting the lemon into thin crescents.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and arrange the lemons in a single layer on the parchment. Dab the lemons with olive oil. Then sprinkle a little sugar on the fleshy centers. Place in the oven.
Bake 30-40 minutes until the lemons are golden and tinged with brown. After the first 30 minutes, I check the lemons frequently as random ones can become darker than the others; remove them and keep the rest cooking.
As the lemons cool, the’ll become leathery and chewy and won’t stick to each other. Store in a plastic container in the fridge.