Wednesday, May 22, 2013

[More Than] 10 Ways to Use Preserved Lemons

I made preserved lemons after coming across this video from DietEasily. The whole series is excellent!

I started selling some of the fermented foods I've been making (see current selection HERE). The pickles and Sauerkraut are flying off the shelf (ok, more like trickling of the half-shelf in my refrigerator.) But no one seems interested in these gorgeous organic preserved lemons I have! My friends want to know, "What do you do with them?" Well, I shall tell you!

There are three basic ways to use the preserved lemon:
A. Whole - Slice it, cut it in chunks, chop it, blend it. The whole thing is edible.
B. Just the rind - When I want a more subtle sparkle where the lemon will be eaten raw, I use my thumb to scrape off the pulp and the pith. Then I usually slice the rind into thin slivers.
C. Juice - The lemons are usually packed in lemon juice, which becomes salty and mildly fermented. To keep the lemons for as long as possible (without mold) they must stay submerged in this wonderful elixir or salt water. But there is usually some to spare.

I encourage you to use them raw as much as possible, in order to preserve all the beneficial microorganisms. Preserved lemons can replace lemon juice and salt in a recipe.

Now, in no particular order, here are 10 ideas to inspire you to make and use preserved lemons.

1. Chop them into tuna or chicken salad. The first time I accidentally tried preserved lemons was in a tuna sandwich at a cafe. It does not have to be a mayonnaise-based salad. Try using chopped stewed tomatoes, salsa, or matbucha instead of mayo, like in this Southwest Chicken Salad.

2. Mix them in a tabbouleh-like salad made from bulgur, quinoa, or shredded cauliflower. I like to start with this recipe for quinoa tabouli.
Use them in lentil or bean salad. I like little black lentils and cubed sweet potato, like this recipe from Israeli Kitchen.

3. Make salad dressing with the juice or finely chopped or blended whole lemons. I'm picturing something with good olive oil, dijon mustard, dill, and parsley.

4. Use lemons with the juice as the base of a marinade for meat, poultry, or fish.

5. Chicken (or vegetarian) tagine - My little kitchen is not equipped with an authentic
tagine, but while writing this list, I made a tagine-inspired dish in my slow cooker. Just think Moroccan/North African.
chicken tagine by Alpha
Mix pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or fish, beef, lamb, beans, or root vegetables) with chopped onions and preserved lemons, plus any of the following:
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • saffron
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • olives
  • dried apricots
  • slivered almonds
  • tomatoes (canned work well, or tomato paste)
  • carrots, sweet potato, or pumpkin
  • chickpeas or other legumes. 
Simmer about 45 minutes or until everything is cooked.

6. Roasted veggie salad - Roast or grill bell peppers, cauliflower, garlic cloves, whole cherry tomatoes, onions, carrots, kohlrabi, or whatever you like, with a little olive oil. After it's cooked, mix it will fresh chopped parsley or other herbs, chopped preserved lemons, and whatever seasonings inspire you.

7. Lemon Sorbet - Blend lemon with coconut cream, sugar/honey/other sweetener. Either use an ice cream maker, or put the blender in the freezer and blend every couple hours.

8. Fettuccine Primavera - Cook up your favorite pasta and seasonal veggies. Add chopped lemon at the end to preserve the probiotic qualities.
grilled asperagus from Stijn

9. Moroccan Inspired Rice - Saute onions in the bottom of your pot with whatever you have - garlic, mushrooms, cumin... Add boiling water, long-grain rice, and any other seasoning - saffron, turmeric, salt. Towards the end of cooking, add pistachios, slivered almonds, or pine nuts; dried raisins or cranberries; fresh parsley (basically whatever you have on hand); and chopped lemons.

10. Use it as a fancy dressing for blanched or grilled asparagus or broccoli. Add toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts and sesame oil or good olive oil.

Oh, no, I can't stop!!

11. Use in avocado salad and let it sit out for 5-8 hours to slightly ferment the avocado. To literally "liven" up your guacomole, tacos, sandwich, etc.

12. Put them out when guests come over because they are just so pretty!

For preserved lemon instructions and other recipes, check out Preserved Lemons: Older, Wiser, and Full of Flavor, by T. Susan Chang of NPR.

UPDATE: I've been using preserved lemon to make "Live Tahini Dip":
pure tahini (sesame paste), water. good extra virgin olive oil, pickled garlic, fresh parsley, salt, preserved lemon, and additional lemon juice after tasting

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