I went in search of a North African side dish to serve with the Tunisian Bean and Chickpea Stew, and I found this Moroccan salad that interested me because it contains preserved lemons. A couple of months ago, I bought a jar of preserved lemons since I knew that I had seen recipes calling for them, but once I actually had the lemons, I couldn’t find the recipes. So, when I saw this one, I knew I had to make it.
If you’re unfamiliar with preserved lemons, they’re widely used in North African cooking to give a complex, lemony taste to stews and salads. They’re made by stuffing lemons with salt and allowing them to pickle in their own juices for about a month. To use them, you chop the rind into tiny pieces and sometimes blend the pulp into sauces. Since they’re packed in salt, they’re high in sodium, so there’s no need to add additional salt to dishes they’re in, but you can wash them first to remove some of the salt.
I found this jar in a Middle Eastern grocery store, but they’re relatively easy to make, and recipes are all over the internet. In fact, when the Meyer lemons in my parents’ orchard are ripe in a couple of months, I’m going to try my hand at making my own. I’ll let you know if homemade is better than store-bought.
Anyway, here’s the salad recipe, plus a bonus.
- 2 large eggplants, unpeeled (about 2 pounds)
- olive oil spray
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Dash of hot pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons diced preserved lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the eggplants into ½-inch cubes. Spray a large, long baking dish with olive oil, and add the eggplant. Spray the top of the eggplant lightly. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until eggplant is tender–about 30 minutes.
- Place the eggplant in a serving bowl and toss it with the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes and preserved lemon. Refrigerate until well-chilled–the longer the better. Just before serving, sprinkle with the parsley.
Preserved lemons may be an acquired taste, but I found another recipe where they work perfectly: Preserved Lemon Martinis!
Preserved Lemon Martini
- 2 ounces (60 ml) gin
- 1 teaspoon dry white vermouth
- 1 slice preserved lemon
- Shake the gin and vermouth in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Strain into a martini glass and serve with a slice of preserved lemon. The salty, lemony taste of preserved lemon makes a nice change from the traditional olive martini.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 1