Grilled Lemons Should Be the Star of Your Next Cookout—Here’s Why

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Meat gets all the glory with grilling. Steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and chicken are obvious choices for your cook out, but I think they may get just a little too much credit. Honestly, they’re too easy to overcook or burn, as the fat drips over the fire and the flame jumps up. Instead, I’m all about cooking those things on a stove or in an oven (where they’re far less likely to be messed up) and grilling the side dishes and toppings to achieve that smoky, summery flavor.

That’s where lemons enter the picture. Thinly sliced, with the seeds removed, I always throw them on the grill first. As it heats up, the lemons get caramelized and concentrated in about 10 minutes. I pull them off, drizzle with olive oil and top with a pinch of salt. I like them because they’re delicious, but also because it feels like a super-pro move that impresses just about everyone. Ever had preserved lemon? They’re kind of like that. They’re lightly acidic, though the cooking brings that down significantly, it’s an easy way to bring salt and flavor to any boring dish.

Great cooking comes down to confidence

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I love them chopped up and stirred into a salad dressing, or mixed in with a grilled vegetable like broccoli or eggplant. I made grilled pizzas last week and the one that my boyfriend is still going on about was topped with ricotta cheese, chili flakes, rounds of grilled lemon and a handful of arugula. Which reminds me, your grilled lemon slices would be excellent in a grilled cheese as well, or even chopped and stirred into pasta. Any leftover lemons can be stored in the refrigerator—I highly recommend finely chopping them and mixing with fresh parsley to make a bright salsa verde, perfect for spooning over steak, chicken, or pork chops. Try grilled lemons once and you’ll understand—it’s definitely time to reconsider your grilling priorities.

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