the magic of lemon

as you’ll probably know, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, i use lemons a lot in my cooking. in fact, if asked what my most-used, favourite and flexible ingredient is, the lemon would probably win.

lemon juice is a standard part of my salad dressings and is my default choice over vinegar. lemon juice and zest are used to flavour couscous, pilafs and, with an eye on the sweeter things in life, cakes and puddings often have a lemony flavour if i’m not cooking with someone else’s preferences in mind. i also add it to marinades, especially where chicken is involved, and cocktails (raspberry collins was the drink of choice this weekend).

the thin slices of lemon in this broccoli salad were my favourite thing about it, not least as they reminded me of my favourite chicken, lemon and peppadew pasta which i have recently been craving.

ottolenghi chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic (and lemon!) serves 2-4

2 heads of broccoli, about 500g, trimmed into bite sized pieces

115ml olive oil

salt & pepper

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 mild red chillis, thinly sliced

toasted flaked almonds

thin slices of lemon, with skin

blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes then place in iced water to stop it cooking further. drain and pat dry with a tea towel – the broccoli should be completely dry before tossing it with 45mlof the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

heat a ridged griddle pan until it is very hit and cook the broccoli in batches until they have char marks all over.

while griddling the broccoli, place the rest of the oil in a pan with the garlic and chillies. cook over a medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden – remove it from the heat at this stage, remembering the chilli and garlic will continue to cook.

pour the oil, chilli and garlic over the hot broccoli and toss together, seasoning to taste. garnish with the flaked almonds and sliced lemon just before serving. this salad can be eaten warm or at room temperature.