Stuffed Lemons Cooked in the Oven - Limoni Cotti al Forno

Stuffed lemons with tomatoes, anchovies, basil & mozzarella is a delicious antipasto and perfect example of balancing flavors. We first tried this mouthwatering two-bite bit of heaven on the Amalfi Coast and have been recreating it ever since. Even though it is not a traditional dish of Le Marche, Jason likes to use it in his cooking classes to teach how to balance flavors in the kitchen: fat, acid, sweet, salty & aromatic. The creamy mozzarella subdues the tartness of the lemon; sweet cherry tomatoes go perfectly with the aromatic basil; and salty anchovies round out the dish.  All five of these ingredients work together harmoniously so that none of them are overpowering creating a balanced flavor.

This dish is also fantastic because you can make it your own very simply. Don't like anchovies? Try some capers or olives instead,  better yet go meaty and throw in a little prosciutto to get that salty component that is needed.  In Autumn, when the basil is gone and the frost have taken the tomatoes use the ingredients of that season to substitute (Gorgonzola, pear and walnuts sound good to me).   Be creative!  Keep this philosophy in mind and you can adapt any recipe to fit the season.

Lemons Cooked in the Oven
Limoni Cotti al Forno

2 Large unwaxed lemons
1 or 2 balls of buffalo mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch  or 1/2 cm thick pieces
4 fresh basil leaves
2 anchovy fillets
2 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 F / 215 C
Remove the ends of the lemons & discard them (don’t cut in to deep - you want to keep a closed bottom). Then cut the lemons in half crossways, giving you little lemon bowls.

Using a small knife, remove the lemon flesh, leaving you with 4 hollow lemon rind bowls. (Again you don’t want to break-into the rind)

Cut a piece of mozzarella to fit inside, then lay a basil leaf, half an anchovy fillet and half a cherry tomato on top with a pinch of salt & pepper and a little drizzle of good olive oil. Put another slice of mozzarella on top - the lemon should now be filled up. Do the same to the rest of the lemon bowls.

Place on a baking sheet & cook in a preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes, until golden & bubbling.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately. To eat: scoop the mozzarella out and eat with the bread to soak up any juices!


  1. Va bene. . .I'm trying this tonight. I'll report on my success and what my guests think!!

  2. Ciao. . .meraviglioso!! Ci e piacuto davvero! Ospiti mio dire, "Delicioso molto e molto bouono!!" Grazie mille!

  3. wonderful, can't wait to try this

  4. this is my new favorite simple recipe. It amazes guests and tastes SO good!! And you can cook a dozen at a time when u have a house full of guests without much prep time!! Love it!!

  5. I told you about my Mexican lime version with pepperjack and jalapenos, well I just triedanother variation for the guests at our Christmas party using small oranges stuffed with proscuitto, tomatoes, and swiss cheese. Molto bene!!! Happy holidays Ashley and Jason!!