Roast Potatoes With Lemon Slices For A Bright Side Dish

There's nothing as simplistically delicious as a roasted potato — but simplicity doesn't mean a lack of variety. Fortunately for potato lovers, you can roast the starch in a multitude of ways, varying everything from your choice of potato to the amount of oil you add. As a blank canvas for a range of flavors, potatoes are particularly primed for experimentation. One of the best additions to roasted potatoes, however, isn't about fancy truffle oils or grated cheese. Rather, just a little bit of citrus — in the form of sliced, juiced, or zested lemons — goes a long way.

As for what, exactly, lemons offer potatoes, the truth lies in their brightness. The yellow fruit brings a tanginess to otherwise basic roasted potatoes and offers a boost in flavor. Such lemon-heavy potatoes are beloved by the Greeks, who clearly knew what they were doing with their Greek Lemon Potatoes; the citrus flavor transforms even the most basic of potato recipes into something far more complex.

Luckily, it's easy to incorporate your desired degree of citrus into your roasted potatoes. It doesn't take much lemon to enhance the starch, though you always want to use the fresh stuff in lieu of anything pre-bottled. 

Add lemons at various stages of roasting potatoes

Take a cue from the Greek's playbook, and try your hand at their Greek Lemon Potatoes. Whether you're a fan of wedges, thin fries, or rustic slices, simply cut your potatoes to your desired shape. From there, you're left with a few options for incorporating the citrus. 

Some recipes suggest adding lemon to potatoes prior to roasting. You can do so in the form of lemon slices, as well as lemon juice and even zest. Simply drizzle lemon juice directly over your potatoes, alongside salt, pepper, oregano, and olive oil. Garlic and thyme likewise complement lemon. 

Granted, the addition of citrus may come at a cost to your potatoes' crispiness; the moisture from the lemons tends to inhibit wedges from fully crisping in the oven. However, this setback can be circumvented by toying with the timing and intensity of your lemon addition. Scale back on the lemon, or add your citrus only after your potatoes have finished roasting. 

Indeed, other recipes rely on lemon later in the baking stage. Simply wait until your potatoes have already begun to roast — 30 minutes should do the trick — and add both sliced lemons, as well as lemon juice. Put the potatoes back in the oven, and the lemon flavor should bake right into the starch. Or, you can wait until your potatoes have finished roasting, and add a final smattering of lemon. When life gives you lemons, make roasted potatoes.