Cooking with Citrus

by Anna on May 28, 2011

in Meat,Vegetarian,World Food

Did you guys know I love, love, loooooooove citrus? Some of you probably know that but not all of you. So let me explain…. I was inside my mama’s belly when I realized I loved lemons. My mother ate lemons with salt during her entire pregnancy, there was never enough…she would wake up sometimes and go to her kitchen and cut some lemons and eat it, then went back to sleep. Poor mama…. Sorry about that mommy. Then when I was 1 year old she gave me a lemon to try, laughing hard in anticipation of the facial expressions she expected me to make. Sure enough I made my faces and puckered my lips but to her surprise I just loved it and kept asking for more…

I absolutely love using citrus on my baking goods and I rarely use vinegar on my salads. I prefer lemons and limes to balance my vinaigrettes. Some countries use lemon a lot and I’m a big fan, countries like Syria, Italy, Mexico and many Latin American countries.

Right now all the lemon trees around here are packed with beautiful lemons, sometimes I have to park my car and try to take pictures of people’s gardens.

So this lamb dish I made is kind of a winter dish, but I tried to turn it into a spring one, using some blood orange segments and actually cooking the dish separately. This way I could control the amount of liquid. The eggplant dish also has some lemon and orange juice. In the end the whole meal was citrus heaven. So here is what I did:

Citrus and Harissa Roasted Eggplant

  • 4 or 5 small eggplants cut lengthwise.
  • 1 tbsp Harissa
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley and mint for garnish.


Pre-heat the oven to a 350F.

Cut the eggplant in half fill a big bowl with cold water and mix 2 tbsp of salt, add the eggplant and live it there for 10 to 15 minutes. In a small saucepan add the honey, Harissa, lemon juice, orange juice and bring it to a simmer to reduce a bit let it simmer until you get a syrupy texture. Reserve. Drain the eggplant and pat dry it well then with a paring knife crisscross the cut side of the eggplant arrange then on a sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast it for 20 to 30 minutes or until soft. Take the eggplant out and brush the Harissa, citrus and honey mixture liberally. Sprinkle some chopped mint and parsley on top for serving.

Lamb, Lentil and Blood Orange Pilaf

For the lamb:

  • 1 pound of lamb shoulder cut into cubes
  • 1tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of whole cardamom pods
  • 1tbsp of grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

For the Rice and Lentils:

  • ½ cup of green lentils
  • 1 cup of uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 blood orange cut in segments
  • ¼ cup of chopped mint
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley


Put the lamb cubes in a Ziploc bag add all the spices the olive oil salt and pepper, lemon juice, grated ginger, minced garlic and massage it to coat all the meat with the mixture. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Sauté the onion with olive oil until golden add the rice and sauté it a little. Add the water season with salt and pepper and let it cook. Reserve.

Segment the blood oranges and reserve.

In another pan add the washed lentils and cover with water and 1 tbsp of salt. Cook the lentil until all dente being careful to not overcook or it will be mushy. Once cooked drain it and reserve.

Now in a heave bottom pan add some olive oil and start to fry the lamb on medium heat let it brown on all sides add half cup of water cover the pan and let it simmer. Let it cook until all the liquid evaporates. Check for seasoning and if the meat is tender. Now to assemble everything mix the meat, rice, lentils, chopped parsley and mint, and the orange segments. Have a great weekend

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Alaiyo Kiasi August 7, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Hey Anna,

I love citrus as well. I try to infuse citrus fragrance throughout my day starting with drinking a tall glass of spring water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Many of my cosmetic products have a citrus scent. The fragrance is just so alive!

Your blog is one of the most beautiful that I’ve seen–the photographs are rich with color and so is your art. Although I write about being a vegetarian and pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), your blog has inspired me to create another category: “Inspirational Blogs.” Your blog will be the first one listed. I look forward to reading more.

Alaiyo Kiasi
Pescetarian Journal

Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen July 23, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Mmm harissa is my favorite! I bet the sweet of the citrus plays really nicely with the spiciness of the harissa on that eggplant. Beautiful! 🙂

Juicing With Rika Susan July 22, 2011 at 7:26 AM

You can write a great story! Thanks! I love, love the pilaf. And your pictures are yummy. Yes, no kitchen should be without citrus and lemon in particular. When I juice veggies, I always add a few drops of lemon. Adds a nice zing and also helps to preserve nutrients.

Kim Bee July 21, 2011 at 9:45 AM

New follower from foodbuzz. You are an incredible cook. Been wandering around the site and am just amazed at all the great stuff. The pumpkin ravioli is off the charts. This recipe here is drool worthy. Really nice to meet you. Kim

sarah July 17, 2011 at 8:41 PM

This looks amazing! I’m waiting for the lemons on my meyer tree to ripen. Oh how I love all things citrus too. 2 of my kids are just like you – lemons straight.

Anna July 5, 2011 at 7:36 AM

Thank you Bethany for the great tip. I’m sure I’ll love that. Have a great week 😉

Bethany Cousins @ Mommy Rantings July 3, 2011 at 10:59 AM

We love to poke holes in whole lemons and stick them inside of whole chickens for an extremely juicy meat! There’s a bit of a lemony taste to the chicken, but the best part is the amount of juice that is found throughout the meat. My children absolutely love chicken baked this way! It’s a must-try!

sangeeta July 1, 2011 at 11:54 PM

I love anything citrus and have a tree load of limes in my garden…loved that brinjal dish n the pilaf too.

blackbookkitchendiaries June 8, 2011 at 6:58 AM

I love citrus too! and this dish sounds so lovely! yum:)

sweetlife June 8, 2011 at 3:06 AM

two citrus infused recipes..yeah!! i love your story. when I was expecting all i wanted was watermelon..and yup my daughter loves watermelon!


Julia @ DimpleArts June 3, 2011 at 11:08 PM

Beautiful dishes!

Najwa Kronfel June 3, 2011 at 5:47 AM

The lamb looks sooooo delicious I need to make this recipe soon! The blood orange, pure genius.

sensiblecooking June 2, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Anna you really are a citrus girl. The lamb and citrus pilaf made me drool like crazy. I too like to substitute vinegar to lemon or lime.

Juliana June 1, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Anna, both dishes look delicious, like you I love lemon…like how you baked the eggplants and the lamb over the pilaf looks fantastic. Hope you are having a great week 😉

Kate@Diethood May 31, 2011 at 8:12 PM

I also love love love citrus! I lemonize/orangize/etc… everything. I know it’s not a word, but it’s my word. ;-))
That pilaf sounds incredible!

Cynthia at Coffee On The Patio May 31, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Citrus heaven indeed. Our meyer lemon tree is bursting. I love making anything with lemons.


A Little Yumminess May 31, 2011 at 1:59 PM

The lamb pilaf looks amazing!! Wow! I can imagine how good it must be!

Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts May 31, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Citrus is just amazing! You can use it in sweet or savory, and it just does wonders! Your lamb looks wonderful, and I am not even that big of a fan of lamb!

Katherine May 30, 2011 at 7:52 PM

I love your story! My mother ate a pint of ice cream each day when she was pregnant with me and that love was definitely passed on… I also love citrus everything! A chef here in Israel told me that they use it instead of vinegar, and it’s true it shows up everywhere. Beautiful photos and lamb recipe!

Sommer@ASpicyPerspective May 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM

What a great 2-for-1 post! I love citrus too, it help brighten any dish. 🙂

Erica May 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

I love citrus!!! Desserts made with citrus and I love lemon with salt 🙂 Just like your mom

Tina@flourtrader May 29, 2011 at 1:37 AM

This lamb dish looks divine. It is hard to find a good recipe, all I usually see are recipes for leg of lamb. Nice blend of flavors with the blood oranges. Thanks for posting.

Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } May 28, 2011 at 8:05 PM

Love, love citrus too! The lamb and citrus pilaf looks simply divine. Hope you are enjoying the long holiday weekend. 🙂

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