May We Recommend: Preserved Lemons
During this time of social distancing, almost everyone I know is home, cooking more and trying to make use of leftovers and grocery staples.
That’s why it is the perfect time to make preserved lemons. You may think this Moroccan specialty is too esoteric or unnecessary but it is actually extremely versatile and can perk up a dish from freshly roasted chicken to homemade hummus to a salad or casserole made from leftovers.
Preserved lemons are easy to make, although they do take some time to ripen. They also last a long time (at least 6 months in the refrigerator). The basic recipe calls for only two ingredients: lemons and salt; easy items to get if they aren’t already permanent staples at your house.
There are fancy ways to cut the lemons for preserving (many recipes advise you to cut the lemons but leave them intact at the base). I just cut the lemons into quarters because they fit inside a jar better. Also, when you’re ready to use some in a recipe, it’s easier to pick out a lemon quarter than pull an intact lemon apart.
You can add all sorts of ingredients to spike the flavor, including bay leaf, fresh chili pepper, spices such as cinnamon, coriander seeds, and cloves, and so on. I advise starting with a plain recipe. You don’t have to make a whole recipe either – make half and see if this is something you like. Also, I don’t like to fuss with canning and sterilizing, so I use a glass jar and cover, fresh from the dishwasher, and store them in the fridge.
A classic Moroccan dish pairs braised chicken with preserved lemons, but here are some other delicious many ways to use them: sprinkle some (finely chopped) over roasted vegetables (especially cauliflower); pasta (you can also add mozzarella cheese, olives, or capers); potatoes (baked russets, salad, fries, roasted peeled cubes, and hash browns); white beans; salads (especially with couscous, pasta, potatoes, beans, and green vegetables such as kale or spinach). I’ve also used whole pieces (coarsely cut) as a base for roasted fish and chicken.
The recipe below is my tried and true one; before you use the lemon quarter, remove it from the jar (use a tongs or fork), rinse under cold water and remove any remaining flesh – it’s the peel you’re after.
Enjoy the extra time you might have these days and make this simple recipe – it’s kid-friendly, so you can involve the family too.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.