By Mark S. Baker

The rise of molecular gastronomy—where science meets cooking—has created an interesting phenomenon known as foodpairing. Unrelated to food-and-wine pairing, foodpairing is based on the notion that certain properties of foods match well with those of other foods. Lemon has a tart, citrus flavor and a molecular makeup that is complementary with herbs, vegetables and sweets.

Flavors That Complement Lemon
credit: anna1311/iStock/GettyImages
Flavors That Complement Lemon

Herbs and Spices

Cilantro has a slightly spicy note that meshes well with the acidity in lemon. Raw ginger is pungent and has a unique heat that pairs with the tartness of lemon to create rich and flavorful sauces.

Vegetables

Bell pepper comes in many varieties and colors and has a relatively mild flavor that benefits from lemon's tartness. Lemon also adds brightness and a depth of flavor to cauliflower.

Cheese

Lemon and cheese is a common pairing. Mild cheeses like mozzarella and Gruyere are best. Lemon and Gruyere are particularly wonderful in a silky cheese sauce to add to chicken dishes.

Sweets

Lemon is a common ingredient in pastries like lemon cakes, lemon poppy-seed muffins and lemon meringue pie. Surprisingly, it also pairs beautifully with dark chocolate. The citrus brightens the flavor of cocoa, which is normally muted.