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