Ever since last night, when I wrote my sad post about missing the fruits (literally – and veggies too) of summer, I tried to think of ways to make my meals this week taste more summery. One of the first ingredients to come to mind was lemon.
There’s something very bright, uplifting, and colorful about a lemon. It’s visually appealing, of course, and if you want to taste summer, it’s hard to beat, in my opinion. For me, lemons are a summer staple. I use them with pasta & pesto, on sautéed or pan-fried veggies, or – my personal favorite – on seafood (steamed, broiled, boiled, or grilled – any old way, really).
And therein lies the problem with this attempt at eating summery dishes in January in this part of the U.S.: The right ingredients just aren’t in season. I mentioned in my last post how it’s difficult to “eat local” when the most readily available local produce this time of year is, well, a bit limiting. This, to me, seems a blessing and a curse. I can buy pretty decent lemons at the supermarket in the wintertime. Does that mean I should? What about the other citrus on display? Or the other fruit? Or veggies, like squash and zucchini? Because its origin is slightly less certain this time of year, should I avoid it?
No. And I won’t. For plenty of foods (including lemons & other citrus), as long as the quality is excellent and the price is within reason, I’m all for it. I’ve been able to trust the produce at my local supermarket thus far, and I’ll buy LOADS of fresh, locally grown zucchini, and summer squash, and even lemons when they’re here in a few months. They’ll forget my name at the supermarket, come summer.
And what about seafood? Well, friends, there I draw the line. It took me a good long while to trust “inland” seafood, having experienced it at its freshest in my childhood summers in Charleston. I’m willing to believe that a particular catch was caught recently, if the calendar is turned to June or July, but I won’t be fooled in January.
Tonight, I put my bag of lemons to use and made a lemon-basil pesto for some pasta, and also squeezed some fresh onto my pan-fried eggplant (another wintertime import to these parts). Throughout the week, I’ll be compiling some dishes to remind me (and you) of summer. Feel free to comment with ingredient suggestions, or drop me a tweet (@petite_cuisine) or two. Later on in the week, I’ll put up a list of the recipes. Meanwhile … make some lemonade, y’all!