Lemon basil vinaigrette is a bright and herby dressing that perfectly complements roasted asparagus, fresh peas and parmesan in this quick and easy salad. The dressing is best made with fresh lemon juice and the salad is best with fresh peas, though frozen work fine too especially since they are generally best fresh in the spring.
Origin of lemons
It’s a mystery where lemons, a hybrid between citron and lime, first originated but it is thought that lemons were first cultivated in an area of northeast India, northern Burma of China. From there lemons made their way to Europe and the Mediterranean area, and later Christopher Columbus brought lemons to the Americas. Though in many Latin American cultures such as Peru where I currently live, lemons are a foreign fruit and seldom used or found available for sale.
Cooking with Lemon
There are so many different ways to cook with lemons beyond this recipe for Lemon basil vinaigrette, and so many reasons why this simple fruit adds so much to food! Here are some of my favorite ways to cook, eat and use lemons.
- In desserts such as Lemon cake or the classic Lemon meringue pie.
- They work exceptionally well on salads and in dressing such as the Lemon Basil Vinaigrette in this post.
- Squeeze it over veggies for some brightness such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower.
- Add it to sauces on a variety of foods including veggies, fish, chicken.
- Flavor up your beverages from lemonade, water and cocktails!
- The bright, citrusy scent is a popular essential oil smell and finds it way into cleaning products as well.
- Lemon juice acts as an agent to preserve some fruits and vegetables for a short period of time such as adding lemon juice to cut avocadoes or apples to keep them from turning brown.
Lemon juice, pulp and the rind of the fruit are more commonly used in cooking and other products. The rind has a stronger flavor than the juice and at times it can be bitter. Your best bet when using the rind, or zest in cooking is to either grate the outside of the lemon or carefully trim only the thin outer skin of the outside of the fruit. Avoiding, the white part closer to the pulp which is often quite bitter.
Lemon pairs well with herbs, spices and fruits.
Lemon makes the perfect partner in many dishes for a wide array of foods and seasonings. Here are some of my favorite flavors that create great combinations with lemon.
- Olive oil
Nutrition of lemons
There are lots of reasons why eating lemons is good for you. When you start talking about the nutrition of lemons, most well-known is that it is a good source of vitamin C, a nutrient important to the immune system and skin health. Lemon is also a source of potassium which can help to lower blood pressure and vitamin B6, a nutrient important to the metabolism of food and creation of energy in the body.
Lemons also contain a variety of antioxidants and citric acid, a compound which works to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Though to get all of these nutrients requires you to eat the entire fruit and not just the juice.
Squeezing some lemon over foods that contain iron, helps the body increase the absorption of the iron available in those foods.
Salad Verde with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
- 1 cup green peas fresh or frozen
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 8 cups arugula or watercress
- 1 cup hearts of palm sliced
- ½ cup shaved parmesan
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
- 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2-3 fresh garlic cloves minced
- 1 T shallots minced
- 2 T fresh basil leaves minced
- 3 T white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a blender, combine the lemon juice, cloves, shallots, basil, vinegar and mustard. Blend to mix ingredients. Slowly add the olive oil while the blender is on. When all of the oil is added. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
- Trim the asparagus ends of the stalks and discard. Next cut remaining stalks into one-inch pieces. Toss with 1 tsp olive oil and layout on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until asparagus is crunchy tender.
- After cooking, remove from the oven and allow it to cool a bit. It’s fine for the asparagus to be a little warm or room temperature in the salad.
- Cook fresh peas for one minute in boiling water and then plunge them into ice cold water. If using frozen peas, remove from freezer and thaw in water.
Assemble the salad
- Place the arugula or watercress, hearts of palm and peas into a bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat lettuce leaves. Distribute to six plates and top with asparagus and shaved parmesan.
Did you make this recipe for Salad verde with lemon basil vinaigrette? What is your favorite way to eat lemons? I love it on veggies or fish! It enhances the flavor so well! Please tell me what you thought of this recipe in the comments here on the blog.
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