Zest up Your Home with Lemony Kitchen Recipes and Table Décor

Main squeeze.

When the world feels topsy-turvy, we are reminded of the time-honored saying: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We think that’s perfect advice as we relax into the season after two stressful years. It’s a “take the good with the bad” approach while making the best of any situation.

Lemons symbolize light and energy, guiding us toward harmony and balance. The color lemon is often associated with the warmth of the sun, freshness, happiness and cheer. It’s also a noble color that draws in our focus, highlighting what’s in front of us.

These tart fruits with a bright, sunshiny color remind us to look for solutions and make the best of what life gives us. They are also the perfect addition to freshen up drinks, add a burst of flavor to homemade vinaigrette and spark joy on the table as an arrangement or pop of color.

Bright Sunny Daze

Our table design draws inspiration from dazzling sunshine on our California coast. The Amina Portuguese place setting and copper cutlery radiate varied hues of warm sand tones, the sea and iridescent coral. Repurposed placemats were hand-painted with Soft Buttercup yellow by Behr. Delicate ranunculus punctuate bright yellow napkins, and shades of yellow florals and fresh-picked lemons complete the cheerful design.

Get the look:

Amina plates/bowl, Crate & Barrel; copper cutlery and cotton yellow napkins, Cost Plus World Market; Soft Buttercup by Behr paint, Home Depot.

Sparkling Lychee Lemonade

Makes approximately 4¾ cups

Refreshing, tropical and satisfying, this is sure to be your go-to lemonade recipe. The lychee syrup provides just the right amount of sweetness to balance the tart lemons. Add the seedless lychees to each drink—like nature’s version of boba—or save them for an exotic fruit salad or breakfast fruit bowl.

  • 1 (8.1-ounce) can seedless lychees in syrup (found in Asian or specialty markets)
  • ¼ cup fine white baker’s or caster sugar
  • 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
  • 2 cups sparkling mineral water, or more as desired
  • ice as needed
  • 1 whole lemon, ¼-inch-thick slices
  • fresh thyme sprigs, one per drink as garnish
  • 1 cup seedless lychees, optional

Strain lychee syrup into a pitcher or tall container, reserving lychees. Stir sugar into lychee syrup until fully dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. Chill in refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Add sparkling water to pitcher just before serving. Taste and add additional sugar or lemon juice as desired. Pour into a glass filled with ice and garnish with fresh-sliced lemons, thyme sprigs and lychees if using.

Tip: To get the most juice from the lemons, roll them on a hard, flat surface. While rolling, add medium pressure with the palm of your hand to break up the pulp and release more juice. Cut the lemons horizontally down the center. Place half of a cut lemon into a lemon press or hand-juicer. Strain out the seeds.

Grow your own: Diana Heffernan Schrader, founder of Palos Verdes School Gardens, provided the fresh lemons for our photographs. She recommends planting a lemon tree to reap the benefits of this fresh fruit while skipping the headache of sprouting seeds. A potted dwarf lemon tree can thrive on a sunny patio or in a small space and will provide a generous supply of fresh lemons. Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, provide an extra sweet and complex lemon flavor and are less acidic.

Lemon, Garlic & Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes ½ cup

Bottled vinaigrette will never measure up to this homemade version. It’s ready in a flash and can be made up to three days in advance. 

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar (champagne or apple cider)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon mild olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot (about 1 small shallot)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Add vinegar and lemon to a glass pitcher or medium bowl. Slowly whisk in mustard until fully combined. Whisk in olive oil, about a tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. Whisk in shallot, garlic, garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate. Can be made up to three days in advance. Whisk before serving. Drizzle on salad, white fish or your favorite cooked vegetables.

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