Preserved Lemon

preserved lemon - trust in kim

 

Preserving lemons takes a few weeks to accomplish, but it is really simple, and adds so much to Middle Eastern dishes like a chicken tagine.

Preserved lemons are pickled in their own juice and salt. They sit for a number of weeks, and when they are done can be kept in the fridge for months. The peel of the lemon becomes full of flavour through the preserving process, so you use this part and get rid of the flesh.

I still have to do some experimenting with other uses of preserved lemons, but I have tried them in a dip, and on some fish, as well as with chicken. So good!

I’ve only made this once, and I halved the recipe just in case I didn’t like it. Here is the full recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s The Cookbook.

What you need:

  • 1 jar just large enough to hold all the lemons squished in tightly
  • boiling water
  • 6 unwaxed lemons
  • 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
  • 1 large red chile
  • juice of 6 lemons
  • olive oil

What you do:

  1. Fill the jar with boiling water and let it sit for a minute to sterilize it. Pour the water out and let it sit without touching or drying it.
  2. Wash the lemons and cut a cross in them from one end to about 2cm from the bottom so the 4 quarters are still attached. Pour a tablespoon of salt into each lemon, then fit them tightly into the jar. Seal the jar and leave it for at least a week. I left mine in a cupboard.
  3. After the first week, remove the lid and push the lemons down to squeeze as much juice out as you can. Add the rosemary, chile, and as much lemon juice as you need to cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top. Seal the jar and leave in a cool place for at least 4 weeks. I put mine in the fridge at this point and forgot about them for a few months. They turned out awesome!
  4. To use the lemons, remove the flesh from the inside of one and rinse the peel. Chop it up and use as you wish.

preserving lemons - trust in kim

 

Yotam Ottolenghi's shop on Motcomb Street in London from my visit in July 2014
Yotam Ottolenghi’s shop on Motcomb Street in London from my visit in July 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Eggplant and Pomegranate Molasses

yotam ottolengi butternut squash - trust in kim

Fall is here, so here’s a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe that is delicious and comfort-foody.  It isn’t the simplest recipe, as you have to bake the squash, burn the eggplant (doesn’t sound yummy but it is) and make it into a sauce, plus toast some nuts and seeds.  But if you love to cook you’ll probably enjoy making and eating this one.  The recipe is from Ottolenghi the Cookbook. (Thank you John for this fabulous surprise birthday gift – he saw me oohing and awing over it, and went back and bought it for me.)

I found it wasn’t necessary to add all the oil that the recipe called for, so I cut the oil content from 6 tablespoons to 3.  Feel free to add more oil if you wish.  The cookbook says to let the squash cool before serving, but I changed the order of the preparation so I could take the squash out of the oven last and serve it hot.

What you need for the squash recipe:

1 large butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon nigella seeds (if you can’t find them it is still so delicious without)

3 tablespoons sliced almonds

1/2 cup basil leaves (I forgot to buy these! but it was good without them too)

salt and pepper

What you need for the burnt eggplant recipe:

1 medium eggplant

2/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used my regular yogurt)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1.5 teaspoons pomegranate molasses

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt and pepper

What you do:

1. Set the oven temperature to 350F.  Sprinkle the seeds and nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned.

2. To make the sauce begin by placing the eggplant over a flame – on your stove-top if you have gas, on a barbecue if you don’t, and in the oven if you have neither of those.  Burn the eggplant for 12-15 minutes, turning with tongs from time to time.  The skin should be dry and cracked, and you should smell a smoky aroma.  If you do this in the oven it will need a much longer cooking time.

3. Make a long cut through the eggplant and scoop out the flesh, doing your best to avoid the burnt skin.  Drain in a colander for 10 minutes, then chop coarsely. (you could get the eggplant into the oven now if you want-see step 5 )

4. Stir together the eggplant, yogurt, oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, parsley and garlic.  Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Raise the oven to 425F.  Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into wedges that are about 2cm thick.  Arrange the squash on a baking dish preferably with the skin side down and brush with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the wedges are tender and slightly browned.

6.  Arrange the squash slices on a serving platter and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle the nuts and seeds on top, then garnish with the basil.  Serve with the sauce on the side.

Enjoy!