Wish Upon A Dish: Fermented Foods - The Recipe Dedux Challenge September 2012

September 21, 2012

Fermented Foods - The Recipe Dedux Challenge September 2012

This month The Recipe Redux has picked a theme near and dear to my heart, and stomach.
I am in LOVE with fermented foods. I can bet you are, too.

The word fermentation sounded confusing at first, I thought they were talking about sauerkraut or pickles.
I soon realized it was much more then simple pickling. It included breads, alcohol and cheese, oh yea.

The challenge was to ferment a food and then use it in a dish. Well, I don't make cheese, I certainly don't make wine, and I was leaning towards bread when luck intervened once again, I actually planned on making a stuffing for chicken using Catalan Spinach with Preserved Lemons. My market had boneless breasts at a huge discount and since I cleaned out much of my freezer this month, I have room for more goodies!!

If you have had the time to wander over to my other blog, Pass the Sauce, you can read how fermented ingredients and sauces (vinegar-based) can greatly effect your glucose readings, all for the good.

Preserved lemons are lemons which have been pickled in salt and their own juices. Also called pickled lemons, they add a salty, distinctive lemon flavor to Moroccan tagines, sauces and salads. In Morocco, they're referred to as l'hamd marakad or mssiyar.

Although they are essential to many Moroccan recipes, personal taste dictates how preserved lemons might be used. Some cooks always remove the flesh, for example, while others leave it on when adding preserved lemon to tagines and sauces. In salads, however, only the finely chopped rind is usually used.

Both the saltiness and pungency can be controlled by how much preserved lemon is used, and when the lemons are added to the dish. The longer the lemons simmer in the sauce, the more salt and lemon flavor that will be released.

Preserved lemons are very easy to make at home. It takes only a few minutes to pack the lemons with kosher salt and cover them in a jar, but you’ll need to allow about a month or more for the lemons to soften and pickle. Two ingredients, that's all.
Simply cut the lemons into quarters lengthwise, place two pieces in the bottom of a glass jar and pack salt (I use sea salt) on top of them. Repeat, forcing the lemon pieces down tightly. I used a chopstick. When the lemons are all snug, top with more salt, cover the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

If you can find spring thin skinned lemons, they work the best.

If you don't want to make them yourself, you can buy preserved lemons online from vendors such as Mustapha's, Zamouri Spices and Belazu. Locally, preserved lemons might be found in Middle Eastern or halal markets, or in larger grocery stores which stock imported and specialty products.

I happen to have the end of a batch I preserved using Meyer lemons.

I found a Catalan Spinach recipe that uses the juice and zest from one lemon so I am substituting that with minced preserved lemon rind.
Should make a nice, healthy stuffing for chicken but I would think it would also work well stuffed into peppers (with the addition of rice) or served over toasted bread and poached eggs.


Espinacas a la Catalana (Catalan Spinach)
Recipe adapted from Katie Brown, Curate, Asheville, NC
Makes 4 servings

* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 1 tablespoon EVOO
* 1/2 medium Granny Smith apple, diced
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
* 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry
* 1 pound baby spinach
* 1 quarter preserved lemon rind, pulp removed and rind minced

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the raisins to the hot water. Set aside to rehydrate until plump, about 5 minutes. Strain the raisins and set aside on paper towels to drain.
2. In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the apples and cook gently until they're soft but still retain their texture, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins, shallot and toasted pine nuts. Cook until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sherry, spinach and lemon rind, tossing to coat and removing from the heat before the spinach is completely wilted.
3. Taste for salt and pepper and remove the spinach mixture to a platter, leaving the liquid behind.

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Deanna - Teaspoon of Spice said...

What a great, informative post - I've always wanted to make preserved lemons - really, there's no excuse because they are so easy! Love the spinach recipe, too.

a. maren said...

very cool! i am just learning to ferment some basic things myself, pickles, kim chi, etc. pickled lemons sound amazing! can't wait to try it.