(Note: this post was originally published on May 23, 2021. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Please allow me to introduce you to the most magical, flavor-packed sauce I've created. Yes it's a bold statement, but well-deserved. This has been THE sauce in our house for the past couple months and I expect that trend will continue. It makes use of a very non-traditional ingredient... can you guess what it is?
This sauce needs a warning label that says "For true lemon lovers only" because it packs a serious tart punch. All that bright flavor comes from an ingredient that usually goes in the trash (or compost): the peel of the lemon! So in addition to being astoundingly delicious, this sauce also helps you use something that typically gets wasted.
The peel is really where the flavor is, but it's so strong (super tart! super bitter!) that it's difficult to use. Thankfully there's a secret trick to taming the lemon peel: it needs to be caramelized! When cooked, especially in the presence of oil, the peel mellows to become delightfully golden, crisp, and more complex. It's still a very strong flavor, which is why it excels in a sauce or spread, but the transformation is magical.
While this sauce takes a bit of patience, I promise you it's absolutely worth it. Dice up the lemon peel as small as you can get it, and cook it in generous olive oil. As it cooks, you'll smell the most amazing combination of citrus and caramelizing sugar; it's worth it for that smell alone!
Keep a very close eye on it and stir frequently, since the sugars in the lemon will want to burn. Watch as the magic slowly happens! The pieces of peel cook down and become beautifully browned. There's so much flavor in there! It's tart, bitter, toasty, and sweet all at the same time.
After that, the rest is easy. You'll just combine the lemon peel with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup (that sweetness is important!), turmeric, and salt, then blend it all into a delightfully decadent and creamy sauce.
What can you do with this sauce? The options are endless! We love it drizzled on top of grilled or roasted veggies. It works beautifully as a salad dressing base, with some additional components like balsamic and mustard mixed in. It's dynamite when stirred into still-warm whole grains like farro or wheatberries. Generally speaking, it goes beautifully with any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavor profiles.
If you're looking for a specific way to make this sauce really shine, drizzle it on top of farro and sauteed green beans, as shown below. Finish it with sumac, fresh mint, and blueberries for a wonderful, versatile spring meal or side dish. Or do the same concept, but with farro, cauliflower and almonds! Just remember: it's for true lemon lovers only!!
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts and tips.
If you're like me, you always have lemon peels leftover after using the juice for some other application. If that's the case, no problem! Just follow the same recipe, swapping in additional apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon juice. This is a great way to minimize waste and turn those pesky excess lemon peels into something magical!
How many lemon peels do you waste each week? For me, it's at least several. Instead of throwing them away, make this sauce (or a double-batch!) and stash it away for any time you need a flavor boost. It will keep fine in the fridge for a couple weeks, or the freezer for many weeks. Make sure to check out the modification above for using peels that you've already juiced.
Because of its multi-dimensional flavors, this sauce can really transcend seasons. The lemon makes it feel right for spring and summer, but the caramelized and bitter notes make it feel right for fall and winter too. That versatility makes this sauce work year-round, which is good because I imagine you have leftover lemon peels year-round.
I have a feeling this sauce will pretty much always be in my fridge now. What about you??
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Caution, this sauce is for lemon lovers only! This versatile sauce has sweet, tart, bitter, and charred flavors and makes use of a very unique ingredient: the whole lemon peel.