If you read my last post you’ll have a good idea what this one’s going to be about and, provided I haven’t had a brainstorm in the intervening days, you’d be right.
Firstly an apology. I’m going to (un) wax lyrical about a lemon that only grows in one place on earth and, unless you go there, you can’t really get what I’m on about, so apologies.
The Amalfi lemon is out there on its own. it’s been developed over a thousand years by crossing lemons with bitter oranges to produce today’s “Sfusato d’Amalfi”
To be honest, they ain’t much to look at. Very big, the size of a really big grapefruit or even bigger, and rough and knobbly. Cut them in half and the pith can be half an inch thick but then the magic happens. When you squeeze one there’s so much juice running out that you half expect Dr Who to pop up somewhere. It really is the TARDIS of the lemon world. You can get a full glass of juice out of one average sized fruit. Add to that the fact that the skin and pith taste fantastic and it’s a nose to tail scenario, no waste.
It goes without saying that they make the best lemonade ever but also the best and easiest pasta dish you can make.Basically:
Make (please) some pasta (spaghetti is best for this one), Cook it – squeeze half a lemon over it – sprinkle some Parmesan, Job done.
It’s also used in the quintessential Amalfi coast dessert Deliza al Limone (Lemon Delight)
It’s surprisingly modern though, only developed in 1978 (much like ciabatta which was developed in the 20th century too) and consists of a sponge soaked in limoncello and covered with a lemon cream.
It’s also one of the only bits of Italian cuisine I’m left a bit disappointed by. It’s not lemony enough. In fact. most Italian lemon desserts aren’t, well, lemony enough for me. I suppose it’s down to the fact that most Italian cuisine is beautifully simple and subtle. I want a lemon dish to grab me, smack me in the mouth and leave me in no doubt what I’ve eaten.
The other best use for lemons, however, is more than lemony, and boozy, enough for me, limoncello. Again, it’s the use of everything on the fruit, this time the zest, to produce a lovely digestivo (a post meal bit of booze to you and me). The best ones are a bit cloudy due to the emulcification of the lemon oils from the zest and the syrup used in production. It’s unbeatable poured over ice cream too.
Last bit of lemony wisdom ….use the leaves if you can get them. A BBQ’d bit of meat or sausage, cooked on a lemon leaf is a pure delight. Don’t eat the leaf though, God it’s bitter.