lemonade. So I decided to try making preserved lemons, which are a traditional food in North Africa (think a Moroccan tagine)... and when you have a giant jar of them in your refrigerator (not small expensive jars from a gourmet store) you start experimenting. And now I get cravings for them, even though I have not tried making tagine yet!
Traditionally, to make preserved lemons, you "almost" quarter the lemons, then stuff with salt, then stuff the lemons in a jar. This seems like a lot of bother. Then I stumbled on this recipe where you just quarter the lemons... Eureka! Actually, the recipe was for Meyer Lemons, but works just fine on Eureka lemons. Next I am going to try with limes (and do a smaller batch). Here is my short version of the recipe, click through the link for more details.
15 lemons: quarter 12, the remaining 3 will be juiced
1 ½ cups Diamond Kosher Salt
Mix lemon quarters and salt in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature about 1 hour.
Tightly pack lemon quarters into a large 2 quart jar. Use lemon juice to just cover (note – I use pickle weights to help hold down the lemons).
Let the jar sit at room temperature for about 7 days until lemon rinds are glossy and look translucent all the way through, then refrigerate. They will be good for many months, at about a year they start getting mushy.
So, what do you do with them? The first key is to rinse off each piece when you are ready to use it, and remove the pulp... you just use the lemon rind (the pulp is pretty mushy and super salty, although there are some recipes that call for it), and usually dice into small pieces. They have a bright, briny pop, and use them like you might use capers or olives. You can add to most any pasta or grain salad, I also like them with green salads that have fish in them. I sometimes throw them into the Chickpea and Vegetable Saute. They go great on roasted vegetables. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but it looks good: Roasted Carrots with Lemon.
If you want to do something a bit more fancy (and unusual), try this recipe, inspired by El Farol: Tapas and Spanish Cuisine by Chef James Campbell Caruso (one of those cookbooks where every recipe I have tried is really good):
Preserved Lemon Goat Cheese Spread
1 large head of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces soft goat cheese (such as Silver Goat), at room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped preserved lemons (just the rind part)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 350F (can do in toaster oven). Cut off the top of the garlic. Set the garlic in the center of a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil so that oil runs into the cloves. Bunch (scrunch) the foil around the garlic head, leaving a bit of an opening then bake for 35 – 45 minutes until cloves are nice and soft. Let cool.
Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl with a wooden spoon. Slip the garlic cloves out of the skin and add to the bowl. Mash them a bit on the edge of the bowl (you may or may not want to add the whole head depending on how big it is) then stir together. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour to let the flavors meld, but let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before serving so that is spreads more easily.
Serve on warm bread, crackers, or crudité.
And last, if you want to go the trendy route with kale and a home-fermented food, try this salad, which was inspired by my favorite salad at our local chop house, Stake. While they do have good steaks, we are much more likely to go there and just have a flatbread and salad, or a roasted vegetable outside on the balcony... along with a nice bottle of wine.
Kale Salad with Almonds and Feta
Per person for a main dish salad:
¼ cup almonds – either slivered blanched almonds or coarsely chopped whole almonds
Handful of kale ~ 4 leaves, thick ribs removed and cut into thin slices (1/4 inch or so)
Handful of cabbage – cut into ¼ slices, each about an inch or two long
1 quarter of a preserved lemon (peel only), diced
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
1 small carrot (optional) – 1/8 inch julienne or shredded
¼ cup chickpeas (optional) – plain or roasted
¼ of an avocado (optional) – diced.
Lemon juice – about ½ a lemon
Roast almonds: place on foil on a pan and toast in a toaster oven until light brown. Alternatively, roast in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently. Or start with roasted almonds.
Massage kale leaves with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Let sit while you chop the remaining vegetables.
Add the cabbage, preserved lemon, cheese and optional ingredients. Add the almonds (they should be slightly cooled). Toss. Add the lemon juice and a good grind of pepper, toss some more. If the salad looks dry, add another bit of olive oil. Taste to determine if more salt is needed (the preserved lemon and feta are pretty salty, so more salt may not be needed). Serve in a handmade bowl.