Beet Salads with Preserved Lemon (simple, hearty and fancy variations)/ Oven Coven

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Back in May, my friend Maria sent out an email to a group of women that began…

“Greetings Bombshells:

Wanna be part of my living right project? It is tender young grape leaf season in my backyard! Time to make dolmades!  I’m also calling it my Living Writer project, because man, one needs to balance work with glory, and make room for both.”

Well.  Obviously I want to do that.
We gathered for this oven coven in early June to stuff grape leaves (from Maria’s backyard), Preserve lemons and to flavor jars of alcohol with ripe apricots, cardamom pods and rose petals (also from the yard),  fennel and peppercorns, vanilla beans and grapefruits….the list goes on and on.  Someday I’ll write about the aperitifs, but I haven’t even tasted most of them yet!

One of the nice things about making food that is meant to be consumed months after it’s made is that, when you finally do break the seal on the jar, you naturally reflect and everything that has happened in the meanwhile.  While rose wine was cavorting with rose petals and apricots, the participants in the Oven Coven bought apartments,  moved in with lovers and adopted kittens  While the lemons were soaking up salt and pink peppercorns, I was offered and accepted a full-time job which allows me to focus on how my art form can engage English language learners in public schools.  While the vodka was drinking up fennel deliciousness Maria’s novel, Aerie, was published.  It’s the sequel to her young adult fantasy novel about death, survival and dissent.  It’s meant for smart, weird kids but I have to say that it feels like a relevant read for smart misfits of any age at the moment.  This is my kind of witchcraft.

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I have almost finished my jar of preserved lemons.  It might be time to make more actually since good citrus is available in the winter.  You can do it with grapefruits and limes as well.  I’ve used my lemons in Baby Turnip and Chicken Tagine with Green Olives and in Andalusian Style Honey Lamb Stew.  Mostly though, I’ve used the preserved lemons in beet salads.  I get a lot of beet from my CSA (Flatbush Farmshare).  I love beets but, if I’m going to eat them all the time, I need a strong savory flavor to balance all that sweetness.  For years, my go to beet recipe has been Spicy Beet Salad with Horseradish.  These beet and preserved lemon salads have ranged from ridiculously light and simple snacks,  to no-fuss, hearty main courses, and on to swanky little appetizers.  You can scroll down for all three versions.

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Making preserved lemons is genuinely easy.  That said, you can buy them from Middle Eastern and gourmet specialty grocery stores such as (if you live in my neck of the woods) Blue Apron Foods (located on Union near 7th Ave), Sahadi’s and Kalustyan’s.  They are useful to have around since you can throw them into any stew or sauce that needs salt, tang and punch.  If you are trying to reduce or eliminate the amount of cheese that you cook with, preserved lemons kind of do the same thing as a handful of crumbled of feta.

PRESERVED LEMONS

  • lots of whole lemons (you are going to eat the rinds, so I suggest springing for organic)
  • some flavorings (we used pink pepper corns and bay leaves.  I’m interested in trying fennel and coriander seeds next time)
  • coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  1. Wash and dry the lemons. Slice them almost in quarters lengthwise, leaving the four sections attached at the top.
  2. Sprinkle salt inside the slices and on the bottom of your jars.
  3. Squish the lemons back together and then press a single layer of them in into the bottom of a jar.  Sprinkle more salt and some of the flavorings on top of that layer.
  4. Repeat the process with more layers, squishing them down as much as you possibly can.
  5. When the jar is as full as you can get it, squeeze enough lemon juice in to cover the lemons.
  6. Continue to squish the lemons down once a day for a few days and then pour some olive oil over the top and seal it up.
  7. I started eating mine after they had sat around for a month and they were great, although I think that I was supposed to wait longer.

SIMPLE ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH PRESERVED LEMONS

  • 1 pound of beets (red or golden, or a mix), scrubbed
  • salt, pepper and olive oil for roasting
  • 1/2  preserved lemon, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (any combination of mint, parsley and/or dill)
  • a little more good quality extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • Some greens to serve it on (I like arugula)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets in a small baking dish and toss them with the oil, salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.  When the beets have cooled, chop off their stem ends, slip them out of their skins and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Combine the roasted beets  with the minced preserved lemons and herbs.  Toss it all with another glug of olive oil and serve it on a bed of greens.

 

HEARTY ROASTED BEET AND LENTIL SALAD WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 1 pound of beets (preferably gold ones), scrubbed
  • salt, pepper and olive oil for roasting
  • 1/2 pound of red lentils (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 preserved lemon, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh herbs (any combination of mint, parsley and/or dill)
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • a little more good quality extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • sprinkles of Allepo pepper and sumac for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets in a small baking dish and toss them with the oil, salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.  When the beets have cooled, chop off their stem ends, slip them out of their skins and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  In a mesh sieve, rinse the lentils in cold water.  Add the lentils to the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes.  Drain the lentils in the mesh sieve and run them under cold water to prevent them from becoming mushy.
  3. Combine the roasted beets and cooked lentils with the minced preserved lemons, herbs and red onion.  Toss it all with another glug of olive oil and garnish it with sprinkles of Allepo pepper and sumac if you like.

 

FANCY ROASTED BEET APPETIZER WITH LENTIL, HERB AND PRESERVED LEMON RELISH

  • 1 pound of golden beets, scrubbed
  • salt, pepper and olive oil for roasting
  • 1/2 pound of red lentils (1 heaping cup)
  • 1 preserved lemon, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh herbs (any combination of mint, parsley and/or dill)
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • a little more good quality extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • sprinkles of Allepo pepper and sumac for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the beets in a small baking dish and toss them with the oil, salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.  When the beets have cooled, chop off their stem ends, slip them out of their skins and cut them into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  In a mesh sieve, rinse the lentils in cold water.  Add the lentils to the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes.  Drain the lentils in the mesh sieve and run them under cold water to prevent them from becoming mushy.
  3. Combine the r cooked lentils with the minced preserved lemons, herbs and red onion.  Toss it all with another glug of olive oil.
  4. Arrange the beet slices on a platter and top each one with 1 to 1/2 teaspoon of the lentil mixture. Garnish with sprinkles of Allepo pepper and sumac if you like.

MORE BEETS, LENTILS AND PRESERVED LEMON RECIPES…

About Big Sis Little Dish

This is a blog run by two sisters. Erin is the big sister who lives in New York, and Silvi is the little sister who lives in Vancouver. They both love to cook! They created this blog to share and store recipes for the food they make.

2 comments

  1. Such a beautiful idea to do this with a group of friends. A great way to make memories. The salad looks pretty good as well!

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