Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What to Do With Those Preserved Lemons

So what do you do with the preserved lemons?

You can definitely get complicated and make beautiful braises with chicken. A pan-sauce with butter for fillet of sole is lovely. Or how about to finish lamb chops with artichoke hearts and feta?

Preserved lemons can do wonders for all kinds of meat, but today I am thinking vegetables.

Perhaps the simplest way to capitalize on your lemon stash immediately, is to use them in sautéed vegetables. Spinach is my preference.

Chop the rind of a quarter or half of a preserved lemon. Sauté some chopped garlic briefly and add the chopped lemon. Add the spinach a handful or two at a time and stir. Cook until wilted and taste. You should already feel like a much sharper cook. The preserved lemon absolutely elevates what might be just another rather mundane batch of greens.

The ladies over at Canal House are every bit as enamored with preserved lemons as I am. I was perusing their third volume when I bumped into inspiration for a great side with steaks. They suggest making a purée with lima beans, garlic, and olive oil for topping toasts. The toasts are to be garnished with plenty of chopped preserved lemon rind. That would be a perfect start to a casual party.

Since I was making steak for dinner for A. and myself, I went a slightly different direction. Using frozen lima beans is completely acceptable here. Cook the lima beans according to the package instructions, but until just shy of done. Sauté a clove or two of chopped garlic in some olive oil. Add the chopped rind of half of a preserved lemon, stirring. Add the cooked lima beans and stir for a minute or two, until the flavors meld. Serve with freshly grated or shaved parmigiano reggiano.

I have always been nuts for steamed limas drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and cloaked with a healthy grating of parmigiano reggiano, but this preparation seriously ups the ante.

And finally, I'll turn to the Canal House folks again. They have a superb recipe for Winter Salad in the aforementioned Volume 3 - Winter & Spring. It features a few of my most beloved ingredients -- lemon, anchovy, preserved lemons, fennel, and mint. The salad has a compelling crunch and freshness -- almost reminiscent of tabouleh, thanks to the parsley and mint -- that keeps you foraging into the bowl even though you are way past full.

The preserved lemons in the vinaigrette add body and saltiness. I've started making a habit of adding preserved lemon to most of my lemon vinaigrettes. The dressings develop more complexity and dare I say, mystery.

To me the mint, parsley, scallions, preserved lemon, and anchovy are vital in this recipe. Please don't omit those. And if there happen to be leftovers, don't toss them out! The salad tastes quite great the next day too.

Canal House Winter Salad

Rind from 1/4 preserved lemon, finely chopped
2-3 anchovy fillets, chopped
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup great extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 ribs celery with leaves, sliced
1 fennel bulb, quartered and sliced
1 bunch radishes, sliced
1/2 head radicchio, sliced
1 Belgian endive, thickly sliced
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

In a small bowl mix together the preserved lemon, anchovies, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and the lemon juice. Slowly stir in the olive oil.

In a large bowl mix together the celery, fennel, radishes, radicchio, endive, scallions, mint, and parsley. Stir in the dressing. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Toss and taste for seasoning.

Serves 4


JambonFromage!!! said...

This looks great. I just found your blog today looking for tips on Richard Olney's Pork Chops recipe...I ended up reading almost every recipe on here. Really fun stuff. I've already recommended this site to a few friends.

jacqueline f. said...

Aw, JambonFromage!!!, you've made my night! Thanks so much! Jacqueline

PMF said...

I have to say that that winter salad is a wonder. I love everything about it. All the ingredients are just perfect. I can't wait to try it. I just know it will be a delight. Thanks for bringing it into my life. I am so thrilled to have been awakened and to have been pulled up to a higher level of the art of good eating. Again, thank you.

As always, PMF

Monique said...

I miss lima beans. It has been too long. And I am willing to eat that spinach and that salad as often as possible.