Baking & DessertDinner

By Suzanne Lehrer | May 31, 2011

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

Meyer lemon? I know what you might be thinking: Heirloom tomatoes are not enough, now I need fancypants lemons too? Well, yes-but hear me out.

Meyer lemons are overachieving lemons; lemons that have reached their full potential of lemonness and are everything you didn’t even know you could want out of a lemon. Thought to be the genius citrus marriage of a lemon and an orange, meyer lemons were introduced to the U.S. in 1908 by Mr. Meyer himself-Frank Nicholas Meyer, a Department of Agriculture employee who collected a sample during his travels to China, where the lemons originate from. The lemons were later popularized by cooking icons Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, and Martha Stewart.

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

Meyer lemons are distinguishable from the regular old boring kind by their darker yellow color and more floral scent. Inside, the pulp is sweeter and less acidic, and the rind is much thinner, making them more edible on their own, rather than just for their juice. Still unconvinced? Try these recipes below-neither of which would be half as successful with a tart, commercial lemon-and you’ll be cheering “go meyer or go home” before you know it.

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

Strawberries with Meyer Lemon Creme Recipe

The best thing about great quality lemons-as with most summer produce in general-is that they are best when mostly unadulterated. These strawberries are great with breakfast, or as a dessert, and scream of summer on a plate: light, refreshing, simple, and delicious. The lemon enhances the flavor of the strawberries, which are soaked in meyer lemon juice for about 2 hours so that they pop with just the right amount of tartness, but are tempered by a lemony, but not too sweet creme. This dish allows the true flavor of the lemons to shine without being all gussied up with too much sugar.

Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

Meyer Lemon Pizza Recipe

I know, I know, it sounds weird. But if, like me, pizza is your kryptonite, then you should be willing to try any pizza just once, right? My family loved this recipe-the lemon gives the pizza some bite (though the honey and thyme take the edge off) and the saltiness of the two cheeses keeps the pizza from being too citrus-y. We were divided on rind vs. no rind-I kept the rind in for the pizza since it’s so thin on a meyer lemon-but feel free to experiment without, or add ricotta or goat cheese instead of mozzarella. Add in some caramelized shallots and this turns out to be a great summer pizza recipe-fresh and bright without being too heavy. I had a homemade pizza dough in the freezer, but you can ask nicely for one from your local pizza place. If you don’t have a pizza stone, try throwing the pizza on the grill.

Tools: Pizza stone, wooden pizza peel

For Strawberries with Meyer Lemon Creme
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced lengthwise
  • Juice from 5 meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
For Meyer Lemon Pizza
  • 2 meyer lemons, sliced into thin rounds
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, flaked
  • 1/4 large ball of fresh salted mozzarella
  • 5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 12 in pizza dough

Directions

To Make Strawberries with Meyer Lemon Creme:

1. Squeeze the juice from 4 meyer lemons into a bowl, then submerge strawberry slices, and cover with remaining lemon peels. Let sit for about two hours uncovered and do not refrigerate.

2. In another bowl, mix the sour cream, lemon zest (which you should take off the lemon before juicing), and the juice of 1 lemon. Note: you will get far more juice and better results if you use a juicer (just a simple plastic one is fine) then squeezing the lemon juice out by hand.

3. Mix together, and refrigerate for at least one hour or until cold. Serve over strawberries.

To Make Meyer Lemon Pizza:

1. Preheat a regular or toaster oven to 350°, and preheat another oven to 500°, placing the pizza stone on the bottom-most rack.

2. On a sheet of tin foil, drizzle 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, then lay down the lemon slices. Drizzle them generously with honey and sprinkle the thyme and salt on top. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the lemons have browned slightly, taking care to rotate the foil if need be to make sure the lemons don't burn. Cut each finished slice into 3 smaller pieces.

3. Over low heat in a nonstick pan, melt the butter and remaining olive oil before adding the shallots. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes, or until shallots are light brown and very tender.

4. Roll out the pizza dough, sprinkling with flour to prevent sticking, and sprinkle the lemons and shallots evenly over the round, followed by the mozzarella and parmesan. Using a wooden pizza peel, gently slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake for about 5-6 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and crust is hard to the touch. Sprinkle basil on top.

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