I have been eating this at least once a week ever since I discovered the glory of fresh lemon pepper. I would hereby like to declare this as the Perfect Summer Meal. (Although I will definitely continue eating this all year round as well.)
Have you ever had the lemon pepper seasoning that comes in the spice aisle? Well, this is NOT that lemon pepper seasoning. I can’t believe I didn’t discover this sooner. It’s bright and citrusy without being too acidic, and adds HUGE, healthy flavor to an otherwise bland filet of fish and plain veggies. The result is a very healthy, light meal that you will want to eat every. single. day.
Here is the magical equation for all your fresh lemon pepper needs:
lemon zest + cracked pepper + olive oil + salt + garlic = fresh lemon pepper
The proportions of the ingredients are flexible; I provided measurements in the recipe below but if you just estimate, you really can’t go wrong. I used flounder and asparagus, but you can use any fish or vegetable you want here- cod, salmon, tilapia… zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, etc. Or, with chicken! It’s a great way to buy whatever is on sale or in season to keep an otherwise “fancy” dinner within your budget. I really should have just titled this post “Whatever You Want to Cook with Fresh Lemon Pepper.”
Another awesome thing about this meal- you use only one skillet (!!!) for the entire meal, which makes clean-up a breeze. I’ve been using my Calphalon nonstick skillet a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cast iron skillet, and it will always be my favorite, but it’s just so heavy and it’s so hot outside. And, for light dishes like fish and veggies without a lot of natural fats, a non-stick skillet works really well without the fear of burning or sticking.
The asparagus (or whatever veggie you are using) is sautéed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a little bit of the lemon pepper seasoning in the skillet. No need to get a bowl dirty- just mix it up right in the skillet! As the veggies are cooking, rinse the fish and pat dry (rinsing in cold water will help dilute any unpleasant “fishy” taste, while patting dry will ensure the fish browns properly and the lemon pepper sticks to it), then coat with the rest of the lemon pepper seasoning on both sides. When the veggies are done, just transfer them to plates and cook the fish in the same skillet. Fish cooks extremely quickly, and with only a couple of minutes on each side, the veggies will still be nice and warm when you serve the meal.
Now, how easy is that? (Uh oh, I think I’ve been watching too much Barefoot Contessa on my summer vacation…)
The lemon pepper can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for about a week until you are ready to use it, but even if you wait to make the entire dish all at once, it should not take more than 30 minutes.
Here’s the thing about lemon pepper- you use only the lemon zest. This leaves you with a lot of zest-less lemons. But you know what they say… when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or… make avgolemono! Or… clean your cutting boards, brighten the metal on your sink and shower, or clean your dish disposal (or any of the other suggestions listed here). I chose the former to have with our meal- just mix the juice of the three lemons you have already zested with 1/2 cup sugar and 5 cups of water! Boom. Lemonade.
Hope you enjoy this Perfect Summer Meal as much as we did!
Flounder and Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Pepper
For the Flounder:
- zest of 3 lemons
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 more for sauteeing
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt to taste
- 1 lb. flounder rinsed and patted dry (or other fish)
For the Asparagus:
- 1 lb. asparagus trimmed (or other vegetable)
- olive oil salt, and pepper to taste
- lemon wedges optional
- Combine lemon zest, pepper, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt to taste in a small bowl.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet (preferably nonstick) on medium-high heat. Add asparagus, salt and pepper to taste, and a small spoonful of the lemon pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon) to the skillet. Stir to coat, and saute until browned and cooked.
- Meanwhile, while asparagus is cooking, coat the fish with the rest of the lemon pepper evenly on both sides.
- When asparagus is cooked (after approximately 10 minutes), remove to plates to serve.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and place the fish in the skillet.
- After 2 minutes, flip fish to the other side.
- After about 2 more minutes, the fish should be cooked through (if it flakes easily with a fork, it is done). Remove to plates with the asparagus and serve with lemon wedges if desired.