A case for eating more lemons

Elevate the fruit from garnish to main dish because the best time for citrus is now.

The worst of winter is (probably, hopefully) behind us. Which means we have a bounty of spring produce to look forward to. Before the switchover, let's appreciate the fact that now's still a prime time for citrus: navel oranges, clementines aplenty and a sometimes overlooked fruit, the lemon. Usually we squeeze the life out of them to get at the juice, but for once we thought we'd let the whole thing take center stage. Chef Bridget Charters of Hot Stove Society in Seattle gave us three recipes that we're categorizing as easy, easier and easiest. And these dishes are scientifically proven to put you in high spirits: not only are lemons are a terrific source of vitamin C, but researchers at Ohio State University found that lemons' aroma has a positive effect on mood.

Easy: Braised chicken with olives and lemons, which uses preserved lemons (the kind you see in jars at gourmet grocery stores) for a fragrant and flavorful dinner.

Easier: Fennel, orange and lemon Sicilian salad with its savory profile to play off the sweet and sour of the fruit. This ode to southern Italy is a great occasion to use Meyer lemons, which are in season a little while longer.

Easiest: Lemon salt, which frankly is barely a recipe, but will be your new pantry staple. It's a way to add flavor to lots of dishes, such as scrambled eggs, green salads, fish and chicken, and gives you something to do with all those lemons you peel.