Lemons from the Algarve
Updated: Mar 22
In the Algarve, Nature's pantry is sometimes no further than the lemon tree in the garden. The smell of fresh lemons is divine. Even if you can't go and just pick yours fresh why not make some delicious lemon curd. Such an easy recipe:
Ingredients: 4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice 200g/7oz unrefined caster sugar 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk
Method: Put the lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10–13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Preserved Lemons: Another brilliant idea if you have a glut on your tree this year is preserving lemons for when you need them later in the year. So delicious when used in savoury dishes and so easy to do...
Ingredients: 12 lemons - 6 for the jar and 6 for their juice 250g sea salt 4 bay leaves 6 peppercorns 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (optional)
Method: Cut 6 of the lemons in quarters lengthways, but not all the way to the top, so that they still hold together (do this over a bowl to preserve any juice).
Squeeze the 6 other lemons and reserve the juice.
Put a good tablespoon of salt in the bottom of each sterilised jar, then pack the quartered lemons with salt and push them tightly together into the jars.
Divide the bay leaves, peppercorns and coriander seeds, if using, between the jars and cover with the squeezed lemon juice and remaining salt.
If the juice doesn't cover the lemons then top up with water.
Close the jars and shake. Make sure that there is a layer of salt at the bottom. Every day for 2 weeks turn the jars and add salt if necessary.
They are ready to use after about a month but the longer you leave them, the better they taste.
They will keep for up to a year if stored in a cool, dark place.
Lemon drizzle cake: A delicious piece of lemon drizzle cake is a zingy mid morning snack with your coffee or to enjoy with friends for an afternoon catch up.
Ingredients: (for the cake)
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
1 lemon, zested
Ingredients: (for the drizzle)
1½ to 2 lemons, juiced
85g caster sugar
Heat the oven to 180c/160c fan oven or Gas mark 4
Beat together the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy and then add the eggs, one by one at a time, slowly mixing through
Sift in the self-raising flour, then add the lemon zest and mix until well combined
Line a loaf tine (8 x 21 cm) with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.
Bake for 45-50 mins in the oven until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is cooling in the tin, mix together the lemon juice and the caster sugar to make the drizzle.
Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork and then pour over the drizzle - the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping
Leave the cake in the tin until completely cool and then remove and serve. The cake will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze for up to one month ... enjoy
There are so many savoury recipes that use lemons too and below are just a few of our favourites:
Saffron risotto with lemon chicken: This delicious recipe really does have a zing to it and a lovely lunch with friends (serves 4).
Zest and juice of one lemon
Small handful of fresh parsley
25g blanched almonds
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 garlic clove
75ml olive oil
4 chicken breast fillets with skin
225g onions, peeled and finely chopped
a small pinch of saffron
225g risotto (arborio) rice (it is vital you use the right rice for the perfect risotto)
125 ml white wine
450ml hot chicken stock
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
fresh thyme sprigs to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan oven or gas mark 6.
Whiz the zest, parsley, almonds, thyme and garlic in a food processor for a few seconds, then slowly add the oil and whizz until combined and then season with salt and pepper.
Spread the mixture under the skin of the chicken
Put the chicken in a roasting tin, brush with 25g of melted butter and pour the lemon juice over. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes
Heat the remaining butter in a pan. Add the onions and fry until soft. Stir in the saffron and rice.
Add the wine and hot stock a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid after each addition. It is vital this is hot when added as this swells the grains, yet keeps them firm. Keep the stock simmering gently in a pan and add it ladle by ladle to the risotto, allowing it to be absorbed by the rice after each addition. The right heat is also important so maintain a medium heat and the rice should cook in about 25 minutes. Don't leave your risotto. Stir constantly to loosen the rice from the bottom of the pan.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Serve with the chicken, pouring over any juices from the roasting tin and garnish with thyme.
Pasta with lemon butter prawns
A super easy recipe that we love as it can be served up within 15 minutes and makes a great light lunch
zest 3 lemons
200g large raw prawns , shelled
100g bag rocket
Melt the butter, then add the zest and infuse for about 15 mins. Add a little of the butter to a pan, then fry the prawns for 2-3 mins.
Meanwhile, boil the tagliatelle according to pack instructions. Drain, return to the pan, then add the butter, prawns and rocket. Toss together, season and serve immediately.
Lemons and greens pesto pasta: One of our favourite vegetarian options is this pasta dish: It's perfect for busy days, and will be loved by the whole family
350g pasta (we used linguine)
½ small head of broccoli, cut into florets
large handful of basil
1 large handful of spinach wilted in boiling water, cooled and excess water squeezed out
4 tbsp pine nuts
1 garlic clove, grated
½ lemon, zested and juiced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
large handful of frozen peas, set aside in boiled water until heated through
3 tbsp grated parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese
3 tbsp soft cheese
Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli for 4 mins in boiling salted water. Drain, then put in a food processor along with the basil, spinach and pine nuts. Pulse until combined.
Stir in the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, peas, parmesan and soft cheese, and season to taste.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan and add the pesto along with a splash of water to loosen. Toss together, check the seasoning and serve.