When life gives you lemons
Updated: Mar 12, 2019
A menu from The Sunlight Sets – simple set menus with airy textures, probiotic ingredients and stimulating flavours.
Summer starts slow in London. The sky is groaning. The weight of the world is on your shoulders. And you’ve only had one barbecue so far. Hang in there. This is the meal that will give you the zest you need. Lemon’s gift is so much more than sour – sharp, refreshing and light. Take a sip of barley water and be transported straight back to your childhood, playing outdoors on hot summer days. Douse chewy pearls of couscous, sweet prawns and emerald peas with lemon sauce. If you’re green-fingered, race the ants to the delicate edible flowers on your courgette plant and add them too. But don’t get up from the table just yet. Take a few moments to savour a tangy, tropical truffle and remember that the sun always comes out in the end. When life gives you lemons… you know what to do.
Lemon dill barley water
Ingredients: 1/3 cup pearl barley · finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons · 2 tbsp dill fronds · sugar to taste (¼ cup or less if you prefer)
Method: Rinse the barley under running water until the water runs clear. Put drained barley in a saucepan with lemon zest and 6 fresh cups of water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl, discarding the barley. Add the lemon juice, dill and sugar to the bowl, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 750ml bottle and chill. To drink, dilute 50/50 with cold water.
Coconut lemon truffles
Ingredients: ½ cup macadamia nuts · zest of 1 large lemon (reserve the juice from ¼ of the lemon) · ¼ cup large coconut flakes (or desiccated coconut) · ¼ cup quinoa puffs · ½ tsp vanilla extract · pinch of salt · 2 tbsp honey
Method: Blend the macadamia nuts and lemon zest in a food processor until the mix looks like couscous. Add the coconut flakes, quinoa puffs, vanilla, salt and honey to the mix and blend until sticky. Wet your hands, shape the mix into 8 balls and pop in the fridge. You can also freeze them.
Prawn, courgette and pea couscous
Serves 2 people with leftovers
Ingredients: 5 tbsp olive oil · 1 cup giant pearl couscous · 2 cups water · 400g medium uncooked peeled prawns · 1 courgette (reserve the flowers if they come attached) · 1 cup frozen peas · 2 tbsp lemon juice · ½ tsp lemon zest · 1 tsp honey · ½ tsp Dijon mustard · 2 tbsp dill fronds (left over from the barley water recipe) · sea salt · ground black pepper
Method: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frypan over medium heat. Add the couscous in a flat layer and stir occasionally until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes until the couscous is al dente.
Meanwhile, cut the courgette into slices the thickness of a pound coin. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frypan and cook the prawns and courgette on medium-low heat until the prawns are opaque and the courgette is just tender, about 5 minutes. If you have the flowers, add them in the last minute. Boil the peas in a small saucepan for the same amount of time, then drain.
To make the vinaigrette whisk together the lemon juice and zest, honey, mustard and dill in a small bowl. Season to taste then add 3 tablespoons of the oil in a slow stream, whisking until the dressing is blended.
Drain the couscous in a fine-mesh strainer, add to the bowl of vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add the cooked prawns, peas and courgettes. This dish tastes just as good cold the next day.
Make it work for you
Barley is high FODMAP, so make yourself a refreshing lemon soda instead – lemon slices and a big squeeze of juice in a tall glass, topped up with soda water. Use ‘free-from’ couscous, swap the shallot and peas for chopped chives and you'll have a tasty low FODMAP grain bowl.
Get settled in your outdoor space – roof deck, garden, balcony, or just open the kitchen window – close your eyes and enjoy the sun and breeze on your skin, however fleeting.