The zest is yet to come: Sunny, springy citrus recipes


In March, winter starts to let go of its grip, and we begin to see signs of spring. This transition always makes me want lighter fare, like citrus. Citrus is bright, fresh and wonderful for cooking.

Whether you like oranges, lemons or limes, I have recipes for you. Like a marvelous Orange Marmalade Two Ways, traditional and rosemary.

I love lemon bars and decided to try a lime version. They are inspired by Key lime pie but are not nearly as rich. They are also portable, which makes them perfect for sharing.

My One-Pot Lemon Chicken is easy and fairly healthy — a great weeknight option.

Lastly, I created a simple salad with herbs, lemon dressing and toasted pita that tastes clean and fresh. Enjoy!

The traditional marmalade is great on bread, but also delicious with bacon crumbles on top. The rosemary marmalade is amazing with sharp cheddar, goat cheese, Asiago or cream cheese with chives on crackers. It makes a nice glaze or finishing sauce for chicken, pork or shrimp. I even like it on toast.

This recipe makes enough to nearly fill three 4-ounce jars: one with plain marmalade and two with rosemary orange (one jar will be a bit shy of full).

Orange Marmalade                                                     
Two Ways

4 cups oranges (about 3 large oranges)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Leaving peels on oranges, rinse well. Using a sharp knife, cut ends off oranges, and slice oranges as thinly as possible, removing any seeds. Cut each slice into quarters, and place in a bowl. Pour lemon juice over oranges.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add orange mixture, and boil for 10 minutes. Add 1 ½ cups sugar and brown sugar, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until oranges are very tender. Stir often,  making sure mixture does not burn. When it’s close to done, add remaining ¼ cup of sugar and stir until thickened.

Remove a third of the mixture and place it in a 4-ounce jar. Add rosemary to pot and stir 30 seconds. Fill two additional jars with remaining mixture.

Note: Marmalade will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Lime Bars

Makes 12-16 bars.

1 box butter cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs, divided
Cooking spray
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Powdered sugar for garnish

Heat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix, melted butter and 1 beaten egg until thoroughly combined. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.
Spread cake mixture into bottom of pan, pressing down with hands until it’s evenly distributed.
In a large bowl, beat together 4 remaining eggs, sweetened condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice until well combined.
Spread lime mixture over crust. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow bars to cool; refrigerate until time to serve. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.

One-Pot Lemon Chicken

Makes 3 servings.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and halved
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 cups of baby red potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small yellow onion, sliced

Heat oven to 400.

Generously season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat oil and butter over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Sear chicken, cooking for 4 minutes per side. Add rosemary, garlic and juice from one lemon half (save other half for another use) and cook for 1 minute. Add mustard, parsley and stock. Place potatoes around chicken, and sprinkle potatoes with salt. Spread onion slices over chicken and potatoes.

Bake 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle lemon zest over dish. Serve.

Green Salad with Lemon Dressing and Toasted Pita

Makes 2 large side salads.

5 cups mixed salad greens
1 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 pieces pita bread

Heat oven to 375.

Toss salad greens with cucumber, parsley, mint and green onions. Add salt and pepper to salad.

For the dressing, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic until emulsified. Toss salad with dressing (see note) and refrigerate.

When ready to eat, toast pita until crisp, 7-9 minutes. Break up warm pita and spread over salad. Serve immediately.

Note: You likely will have leftover dressing. Refrigerate for another use.