How have I made it this far in life without knowing the fantasticalness (autocorrect is assuring me that this a word, so I’m going with it) of preserved lemons? I’ve had them before, most remarkably at 404 in Paris, but this summer I discovered how to use them myself in unexpected ways, mostly as a perfect condiment to bruschetta.
First let’s start with the preserved lemon itself. Apparently they are quite easy to make, and even easier to buy at any grocer. I’ve found some wonderful brands at the little farms on Martha’s Vineyard this summer. Making them seems to require dousing them in salt and then putting them into a jar, squishing them all the while to release their juices, in which they will then sit for three to four weeks. You can add all sorts of optional spices to jazz them up. The result is a super lemony edible lemon – rind, pith and all. Strangely, they aren’t really all that salty, at least the ones that I’ve tried. The lemon flavor is still tart, but also round and aged, as opposed to bright and fresh.
Traditionally, preserved lemon is used in lots of Northern African dishes, but I found it to be a welcome addition to the most basic bruschetta. Next time you are whipping up a batch of everyone’s favorite summer starter, try this recipe:
Hadley’s Bruschetta with Preserved Lemon
Bake slices of a hearty homemade bread in the oven. We use a summer wheat that we love from Morning Glory Farm on the Vineyard. Get these nice and toasty, but still soft enough to bite through.
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves. I put 4 garlic cloves in mine, but I realize that much garlic isn’t for everyone. My mother swears it keeps the mosquitos away.
- One preserved lemon, finely diced. Watch out for the seeds, they are usually still in there.
- 4 to 5 large summer tomatoes. Cut them through the middle, seed them, then dice.
- Lots and lots of basil. I’m sure you could add too much, but probably not.
- Olive oil: I poured it out of a slow pourer and went twice around the bowl. I’m guessing it was about 2T. You want it to coat, but not be swimming in olive oil
- Red wine vinegar: I find this to be to taste. I like it evenly vinegary, so I put the same amount in as the olive oil. Thank you Summer Latif for turning me onto red wine vinegar over tomatoes as opposed to balsamic. This is a change I will probably make for life.
- Salt and lots of fresh pepper
Stir to combine and spoon onto your toasty bread. Devour immediately while drinking the 2012 Ceretto “Blange” Arneis. Pretend you are on Lake Como at George Clooney’s house. Because that’s how decadent you will feel. (If you want to be extra decadent, first put a little whole milk ricotta on the bread and THEN spoon the bruschetta over it.)
Please let me know how you like to use preserved lemons as I want to add them to everything now!