Loving the limes! Rachel Allen has four gorgeous recipes that make this zesty citrus fruit sing

I adore the sharp, citrusy tang gorgeous green limes bring to the table. Whether they are zested and juiced to combine with fruit and perhaps a little honey and mint for a delicious start to the day, squeezed over a great green salad with some peppery olive oil and sea salt, or added into a cake or a meringue pie, a lime will always make its presence felt.

Limes are full of goodness, containing antioxidants and vitamin C, and including a sizeable squeeze of delicious lime juice into your diet daily might also help improve how your body absorbs iron. So bring on the Mojitos!

I just adore this fruity number, below, with mangoes, bananas and lime. We make this at the cookery school a lot and sometimes find ourselves adding passion fruit or strawberries into the mix. It’s just great served as a light dessert, with or without buttery shortbread biscuits and cream, but it is also divine for breakfast with some natural yoghurt.

Also featured today, the fennel and mango salad with lime, feta and hazelnuts, makes a lovely light main course, particularly with roasted or grilled chicken or fish on a warm summery day.

I’ve been making this mussel recipe, also below, for years. The mussels are cooked in a broth of coconut milk with some lime juice, chilli and fresh coriander. This is a great recipe that’s so quick and easy to put together, and has a nod to South East Asian flavours. It is just delicious.

For a wee treat with a cup of tea, I recommend the coconut and lime drizzle squares featured below. They’ll keep really well for a few days, or can be frozen for another day.

Mangoes and bananas in lime syrup

Serves 4 You will need: 50g caster sugar or granulated sugar 100ml water 1 ripe mango 2 bananas Zest and juice of 1 large lime

1 Put the caster sugar or the granulated sugar, whichever you’re using, in a saucepan with the water over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the syrup has come to the boil, continue to boil it, uncovered, for 1 minute then take the saucepan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool.

2 Peel the mango and slice it quite thinly lengthwise — the slices should be about 5mm — slice down to the stone. Peel the bananas and cut into 5mm slices. Put the slcied mango and banana into a bowl.

3 Once the syrup has cooled, pour it over the mango and banana. Next, finely grate the zest from the lime and stir it into the sliced mango and banana, followed by the lime juice. Serve straightaway or within a few hours — see my Top Tip below.

Top Tip

If you want to prepare the mango and banana recipe a day in advance, don’t slice the bananas until a few hours before serving.

Coconut and lime drizzle squares

Makes 18-24 squares You will need: 175g butter, softened, and a little extra for greasing the tin Finely grated zest of 2 limes 175g caster sugar 3 eggs 225g plain flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 75g desiccated coconut 2 tablespoons milk

For the lime drizzle, you will need: Juice of 2 limes 100g caster sugar

1 You will also need a 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin. Preheat the oven to 180C (160 fan), 350F, Gas 4.

2 Butter the base and sides of the Swiss roll tin, or line it with parchment paper.

3 Cream the softened butter in the bowl of a food processor along with the finely grated lime zest. Add the caster sugar and whisk until pale and creamy.

4 Beat in the eggs, adding one at a time.

5 Sift in the flour and the baking powder, and add the desiccated coconut followed by the milk. Mix well to combine.

6 Tip the mixture into the prepared Swiss roll tin and spread it out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

7 While the sponge is cooking, make the lime drizzle. Mix together the lime juice and the caster sugar in a small bowl.

8 Take the sponge out of the oven when it is cooked and use a skewer or cocktail stick to prick it all over the surface. Pour the lime drizzle from the bowl over the top of the sponge, trying to cover it completely, and allowing the drizzle to sink in. Allow to cool. Cut into 18 or 24 squares and serve.

Rachel Recommends

When you’re juicing a lime it’s a good idea to roll it under the palm of your hand on a worktop first, which helps to soften the inside making it more juicy.

Mussels with coconut, lime and coriander

Serves 4-6 You will need: 1 onion, finely chopped 3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely grated or crushed 1 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 1 x 400g tin of coconut milk 750g mussels in their shells, scrubbed Approximately 3-4 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce) Juice of 1 lime 1 tablespoon chopped coriander

1 Place the finely chopped onion, the finely grated or crushed garlic, whichever you are using, the finely chopped chilli and the tinned coconut milk in a large saucepan — one that is big enough to hold all the mussels too. Bring to the boil and cook for about 8 minutes or until the onions are cooked.

2 Meanwhile, check that all the mussels are tightly closed. If one is open, tap it — if it closes it’s good, so keep it, but if any stay open throw those ones out — they are dead and you don’t know how fresh they are.

3 When the onions are cooked in the saucepan, add the prepared mussels, put the lid on the pan and cook until the mussels are wide open — this should take about 3-4 minutes.

4 Once the mussels are cooked, stir in the nam pla, the lime juice and the chopped coriander and mix well. Taste for seasoning — add add more nam pla for saltiness and more lime juice if necessary.

5 Serve the mussels in their shells with the delicious coconut broth.

6 Don’t forget to have finger bowls of water and a spare bowl for discarded shells on the table.

Note: Without the mussels, this sauce keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, so if you want, you could take out the sauce as you need it (allow 1 ladleful per person). Then put it into a saucepan and add however many mussels you like (allow about 8 per person if you are serving this dish as a starter, and allow about 12-15 mussels per person if you are serving this as a main course). Put the saucepan on the heat and cook as described above.

Fennel and mango salad with lime, feta and hazelnuts

Serves 4-6 You will need: Large handful of hazelnuts 2 small mangoes 2 small fennel bulbs 100ml extra-virgin olive oil 2-3 tablespoons lime juice 2 scant tablespoons chopped mint Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 200g Greek-style or feta cheese

1 Toast the hazelnuts by cooking them in a dry frying pan over a medium-to-high heat for 4-5 minutes until they are golden under the skins. Alternatively, roast them in a moderate oven for 5-7 minutes. Once the hazelnuts are golden, place them in a tea towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Discard the skins and roughly chop the nuts.

2 Peel the mangoes, then cut the flesh off the spherical-shaped stone. Dice the mango into 1cm pieces.

3 Trim the feathery fronds off the top of the fennel bulbs, and set them aside for later. Trim and discard the base of the fennel bulb and slice the fennel thinly lengthwise.

4 Place the sliced mango and the fennel in a mixing bowl and add the extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and the chopped mint. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and taste, adding more lime juice if necessary.

5 Place the salad on a plate or in a serving bowl, scatter the chopped toasted hazelnuts over the top, crumble over the cheese, and serve.

Top Tip

If you want to make use of any leftover squeezed lime wedges, place them in a large glass of water and sip on it throughout the day. Very refreshing!

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