My cousin introduced me to preserved lemons over bagels and lox earlier this year, and I came home from that visit totally hooked. I immediately picked a few up at the store, but my enthusiasm waned when I realized I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Luckily, my brilliant husband suggested tossing them into a wonderful grain salad that we make as a vehicle to use up miscellaneous vegetables we have on hand. A citrus and olive oil dressing is all it needs – with a little harissa (Moroccan chili paste) to spike it if you love a spicier flavor like we do. I will say that I had no expectations of the girls enjoying this, and they didn’t even try it the first five times it appeared on the table. But the last time, without any prompting, curiosity got the best of them. They both tried a quinoa version, with favorable, if not exactly glowing, reviews.
Preserved lemons can be found at most specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets. But they are also very easy to make at home (which is what I decided to do after using up the store-bought ones). They take about a month to cure in a dark pantry, then last for a long time in the fridge. David Lebovitz’s recipe is a good reference:
Salad (serve 4-6 as a side dish)
Combine 2-3 cups or more of cooked quinoa (I love to combine the red and white varieties), farro, brown rice or another whole grain of choice with a mix of raw or gently cooked vegetables. In version pictured above, we lightly sautéed radicchio (any chicory adds wonderful flavor contrast). Red cabbage and carrots works great. As would arugula, small broccoli pieces, sautéed zucchini in summertime, etc. Chop the rind of preserved lemon into small pieces and add to salad. If you have fresh herbs on hand, throw those in too. Cilantro, parsley, mint and tarragon would all be good options. Toss with a light citrus dressing, salt and pepper and serve. This works great for a meal anytime of the year, and for picnics too, which are on my mind as we slowly inch our way toward warmer weather.