A lemon is a lemon, right? That's what we thought when our high school chorus instructor told us to suck on cut lemons before a performance. Or when granny used to prescribe lemon wedges for cold and sore throat relief. If only we'd been older and wiser and known about Meyer Lemons, the delicious sweet-and-sour citrus variety we spotted in crates at this week's Downtown Chandler Farmers' Market and Phoenix Downtown Public Market.
These babies are pretty enough to eat -- larger than a regular lemon and with a slightly orange-tinged flesh that reinforces the belief that the Meyer lemon is a hybrid of sweet orange and lemon. No one seems to know how this lemon variant originated, though the where is easily answered: China. Luckily, you don't have to go that far to get one anymore.
Meyer lemons weren't always commonplace in the culinary scene, but then chefs caught on to their uses in desserts and seafood dishes. Martha Stewart uses Meyer lemons in her recipes for sweets like coffee cake and lemon-raspberry cupcakes.
Now you can spot them on restaurant menus everywhere, in dishes from lemon-glazed trout to the Meyer Lemon Rosemary Souffle Estate House served over the holidays. (Hint: Now that they're in season again, you can pick a bunch up and make Limoncello on the fly.) We even found Meyer Lemon Olive Oil at the Chandler Farmers Market, which tasted delicious as a dipping sauce and gave us ideas for a lemon pasta dish.
We sauteed fresh broccoli, carrots, shrimp and pine nuts in a pan with a little olive oil and the juice from half of a Chick-a-Bee Meyer lemon, and then tossed in some cooked Quinoa elbows. Top with ground black pepper and voila! A quick and easy dinner made using seasonal ingredients and local produce.