The Joy of Preserved Lemons

You may have heard of them or seen them in jars in the shops and wondered what the deal is with these pretty pickled lemons.  Traditionally associated with Middle- Eastern or Indian cuisine, they’re great for adding a big hit of flavour to your dish.  But they don’t just have to be limited to curries or tagines – and I’ve spent a good bit of time in the kitchen lately coming up with lots of ways to enjoy your preserved lemons in everything from a quick brunch dish to a baked sweet treat.

Making them yourself is super easy, but a little time consuming as they take around six weeks to get going.  I’ll give you a brief How-To here, but there are loads of articles out there on how best to preserve lemons.  I recommend checking out our good friends the Plucky Pickle for top tips on fermenting and pickling everything!  (In fact these recipes I’m sharing with you are part of her Plucky Pickles on a Plate series – which we had a lot of fun collaborating on!)

How To...

  • You’ll need a sterilised jar and enough lemons to fill it.
  • Slice them into quarters, but keep the base in tact so the segments are like closed petals of a flower.
  • Stuff each lemon with about a teaspoon of good quality sea salt and hold the quarters together, massaging the salt in a little bit.
  • Put them into your jar with another tablespoon of sea salt sprinkling across the top, stuffing them down so they’re well packed in and then cover with lemon juice.  You will need to weigh them down so the lemons stay underneath the liquid.
  • Add any aromatics you’d like – I used two bay leaves and a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes, but cinnamon or star anise work wonderfully too.
  • Leave at room temperature for six weeks.

A note on using your preserved lemons…

Whether bought in the supermarket or carefully pickled yourself, you only ever use the rind of a preserved lemon.  All of the recipes below call for them to be diced, so carefully scrape out the flesh and finely slice into strips.  Turn them 90 degrees and slice back the other way to create small squares about 1-2mm long.

A Staple Vinaigrette

Preserved lemon, honey, mustard vinaigrette

This dressing is great on classic green salads and avocado, but why not try pairing it with some potatoes roasted off in simple oil, salt and pepper, tossed with a sliced shallot and finished off with fresh dill for a delicious side dish.

Makes approx. 150ml

½ preserved lemon, diced

1 tblsp wholegrain mustard

1 tblsp honey

1 tblsp preserved lemon juice

150ml olive oil

 

Method

  1. Thoroughly stir together the preserved lemon, mustard, honey and preserved lemon juice to create a loose paste.
  2. Slowly add in the olive oil, stirring continuously. You don’t want to emulsify it, just ensure its well-combined.  The dressing will separate if you don’t use it straight away, but just give it a stir or a shake before use!

A Quick Brunch

Preserved lemon and pea crush crostini

Great as a party snack – or add an egg and enjoy for breakfast!

Serves 2

150g peas

100g ricotta

½ preserved lemon, finely diced

1tsp preserved lemon juice

Small bunch of fresh mint finely chopped

2 slices of good quality sourdough

1 clove garlic

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  1. Boil the peas in salted water until they float to the top of the water – about 3-4 minutes. Make sure not to overcook – you want them tender and a nice bright green!
  2. Cool your peas down by running then under cold water and put in your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sourdough and garlic, and hold back a little preserved lemon and mint to finish off with at the end.
  3. Blitz together, making it as smooth or chunky as you’d like.
  4. Toast your sourdough – the best way to do this is to drizzle in oil and pop in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes, but a toaster will do the job! Rub the garlic clove over the toasted bread.
  5. Spoon the pea mixture out of the blender and spread on top of the garlicky toast.
  6. Finish off with the leftover mint and preserved lemon.

A Cheesy Snack

Blueberry and preserved lemon baked brie

Sweet and tart this is perfect for sharing with friends, dipping in breadsticks and scooping up the remnants with the crusty puff pastry shell.  Team with a crisp white wine for the full experience!

 

Serves 3

150g puff pastry

1 200g wheel of brie

1 tblsp honey

¼ preserved lemon, diced

100g fresh blueberries

1 egg

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200c/180c fan.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry into a circle, about two inches wider in diameter than the wheel of brie.
  3. Mix together the blueberries, preserved lemon and honey in a bowl.
  4. Place the brie in the centre of the puff pastry and fold up the sides so it partly covers the blueberries on top.
  5. Whisk up the egg and brush it evenly across the pastry.
  6. Carefully lift it onto your baking tray and bake until the pastry is golden brown – about 20minutes. The blueberries should have blistered, and the brie be nicely melted inside.

To be continued...

Check out the next post for some more inspiration!  Don’t forget to follow @blackbuttercatering on Instagram too for more recipes up in our stories.