How to Cook With Limoncello

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Homemade or store-bought, the sweet-tart Italian liqueur known as limoncello is traditionally served as a digestive -- an after-dinner drink. Like other flavored liqueurs, you may also cook with it. The alcohol carries the lemony flavor throughout a dish. Desserts might be the first and most obvious choice, but savory options are not out of the question.

  • Drizzle chilled limoncello over ice cream, gelato, fresh cut fruit or pound cake for a simple but decadent dessert. Garnish with slivers of fresh basil or mint.

  • Prepare limoncello tiramisu. Instead of using mascarpone and coffee in your favorite tiramisu recipe, substitute lemon curd and limoncello. Or simply whisk limoncello into the mascarpone and skip the lemon curd. Garnish with strips of candied lemon zest.

  • Use limoncello to flavor granita, a refreshing icy dessert that is similar to sorbet but with a coarser texture. Home cooks can easily make granita in the freezer. All you need is water, sugar, ice and your favorite granita recipe.

  • Use the liqueur to add a lemony touch to a cream-based sauce for pasta. Spaghetti with a limoncello cream sauce needs only a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan and slivered basil. For a heartier dish, add sauteed zucchini -- diced, sliced into half moons or julienned. Add protein in the form of small sauteed shrimp or sauteed sliced chicken breast.

  • Marinate chicken breasts in limoncello, garlic, herbs and lemon juice. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the liquid. Bake the chicken; meanwhile, boil the marinade for five minutes to reduce and to kill off any stray pathogens. Pour the sauce over the chicken to serve. Garnish with chopped parsley.

  • Prepare shrimp scampi with limoncello instead of white wine. Scampi is a simple saute of shrimp, garlic, butter, lemon juice, and wine or vermouth. Substitute limoncello for the wine; you may or may not also use the lemon juice. Serve scampi over pasta, rice or polenta with sliced fennel. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Tips & Warnings

  • Limoncello tastes best chilled.
  • When cooking with any wine or liqueur, not all of the alcohol will dissipate during cooking. You may not want to serve limoncello-flavored dishes to children or people in recovery.

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