Preserved Lemon Tapenade adds zing to a simple dish like grilled chicken and is very easy to make. You can start with store bought preserved lemons but let me tell you how to make them yourself and save money. As we all know, lemons are a wonderful ingredient in food preparations. Because of the powerful essential oils in their rinds, they are a huge source of flavorings A squeeze of the fruit’s juice adds that special something to just about any dish but you may not have tried using preserved lemons to add flavor to a dish. Once you have tried preserving lemons, you will be using them in lots of recipes.
Preserved lemons are best known as a Middle Eastern and North African condiment, but the concept of preserving lemons in some sort of brine is an ancient technique in lots of cultures. They are lemons that are pickled in a brine of salt and their own juice. You can add a few spices if you wish or leave them plain. The fruit ferments at room temperature for up to a month. At the end of that time, you’ll have an authentic ingredient that will add brightness and enhance many dishes. This sour and salty condiment can be used in recipes such as Moroccan stews, tagines, and couscous.
There are many techniques and versions on how to preserve lemons. This is a simple process that I have found works for me but you might want to check other recipes.
Preserved Lemons: You will need a large sterilized canning jar, preferably with a rubber gasket, so the jar seals tight and can be easily opened and reclosed, 1 Tbsp. kosher salt for each lemon, and eight to ten organic lemons, depending on their size, plus two or three extra lemons for juice.
Wash the lemons, rinse well and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds. Wipe well to remove any wax. Some people cut the lemons into quarters but leave them attached at the stem end. Since I am usually cooking for two people, I cut mine into quarters as many times I don’t need a whole lemon. Using 1 Tbsp. of salt for each lemon, pack lemons tightly in the canning jar, salting and pressing each layer as you proceed. Let the lemons sit for several hours and then top with juice, making sure the lemons are completely covered with lemon juice. Seal the jar and place in a dark cabinet to ferment for two or three weeks and up to a month until the rinds have softened and are no longer white. Usually only the skin is used in recipes after removing the pulp and rinsing well.
- 1/2 c. of chopped pitted black and green olives
- 1/4 of a preserved lemon, rind only, washed and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. chopped parsley
- 1 or 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes for the flavor to meld. If you wish, anchovies, capers, mustard and other herbs are optional ingredients that could be added to suit your taste. (Any leftover can be refrigerated for a week or two.)
I used the preserved lemon tapenade as a topping on grilled chicken breasts served with marinated roasted red peppers and an arugula salad dressed with a feta cheese vinaigrette. This tapenade is also delicious served along with crostini or crackers as an appetizer, with roasted meats or as a condiment on sandwiches.