17 Salty-Tangy Preserved Lemon Recipes to Use Up the Whole Jar
My obsession with preserved lemon recipes started on a trip to Morocco in 2017: After asking my waiter what gave my tagine the kick I couldn’t quite put my finger on, he revealed the gift of preserved lemons. I’m a fan of all things briny, salty, and sour, so it’s no surprise these pickled wonders made my palate dance.
I don’t need to give you a lesson on lemons; everyone knows these fruits are tart and tangy, ideal in recipes that benefit from acidic balance and an assertive brightness. The flavor is very recognizable, so nine times out of 10 you know when something’s got lemon in it.
Preserved lemons, however, are an entirely different story. They’re an all-out pantry superstar. They’re more savory than fresh lemons, so they work especially well when I want to add a mellow citrusy, slightly umami undertone to a dish, without in-your-face lemon flavor. (Or I go for the best of both worlds, using fresh and preserved together, when I want brightness and funk.)
Preserved lemons are made by storing fresh lemons in lots of salt until the flesh, pith, and rind soften. Because of their uniquely concentrated saline, slightly bitter, pickle-y profile, they quickly add depth and complexity to the most basic meals.
Though preserved lemons are an essential ingredient in Moroccan cuisine, their merits extend far beyond tagines and braises. Boring vinaigrette? Add chopped preserved lemon. One-note lemon cake? Stir in crushed preserved lemon. Dull lentil soup? You get the idea. Pop them whole into stews; add thin-sliced slivers into drinks; or mince them up for earthier pasta sauces. Before use, rinse to tame the saltiness and be sure to discard the seeds; because of the fermentation process, the rind and pith are fine to consume and will taste the same as the flesh.
The ultra-concentrated brine is also great, when applied sparingly. A few drops can bring pizzazz to seltzers or help deglaze a pan. So, anytime you want to add that special kick to a dish, just reach for your trusty jar.
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