Preserved lemons have always been on my list of things to try making. Not at the top, but on there. Most recipes that call for them seem to involve chicken and fish, so I figured maybe that was what they were all about. That and I already work lemon zest and juice into just about everything in my kitchen- how much better could the salted, aged lemons be?
Duh, for somebody who is so into fermented foods and umami, I let this one get by me for far too long.
So when I got a request to make them, I thought, finally, yes, especially because Meyer lemons are in the market. Perfect.
So, if you thought, as I did, that there was alot of work involved, you have been lead astray. They couldn’t be easier, or more flexible. Basically, you trim the stem tip off the lemons, cut them in quarters (but not all the way!) and then salt them as you pack them in a jar. Pack them in tightly, and have a few extra lemons to squeeze over them in the jar, so they are covered with salty lemon brine. If you are so inclined, you can add some spices, like whole cuminseeds, whole coriander seeds, tiny red chiles, or other flavors.
Let them sit out at room temp for a month or so. Since they are your very own lemons, you can open them up and taste them to see how they are doing. When they are soft and taste a little fermented, put them in the fridge. You want the peels to become silky soft. The fermentation gives the lemons a boost of complexity and umami, although the main flavor is tangy and salty.
So once you have this jar of magical lemoniness, what do you do with it? It’s a very fun ingredient to play with, just look at your usual standards that include citrus or vinegar and try them with some preserved lemon. It’s summer, so salsas, guac, gazpacho, and salads of all sorts can benefit from a mysteriously different bit of lemon.
Or, give this easy salad a try. It can easily grow to include chickpeas, crumbled feta, or tofu chunks if you are looking for a main course.
It’s lemon magic, in a jar. Don’t wait as long as I did to try it!
Farro with Preserved Lemons, Olives and Tomatoes
2 cups cooked Farro or for GF- brown rice (about 1/2 cup raw before cooking)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
8 large green olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1 large red fresno chile, slivered
1/2 preserved lemon, pulp rinsed and zest chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups salad spinach
In a large bowl, combine the grain, tomatoes, olives, onion, chile and lemons. Drizzle with olive oil, cumin and salt and toss to mix. Serve on spinach.