White bean salad with preserved lemons and olives
A few months ago I made a big batch of preserved meyer lemons as a party favor for a gathering of my friends. I completely nerded out on the label which included some ideas on what to do with the lemons and a “ready by” date as I find that they take a minimum of two months to achieve the taste and texture that I’m looking for. For those of you who have never had preserved lemons, they are just lemons cured in salt over time. That’s right, two ingredients, but out of this simplicity comes a transformation more dramatic than Gina Gershon as Donatella Versace. The once tart and firm lemon completely softens up and imparts salt, acid and a complexity of flavor that wasn’t there before. Don’t worry, you don’t have to scrounge up a bunch of lemons wait two months for the results as preserved lemons are readily available online and at many specialty food retailers. That said, if you decide you do want to make them yourself I’ll include the recipe below.
Now, what to do with the lemons? One of my very creative friends ended up making ice cream with his batch and said it was quite delicious. I decided to take a more savory route and whip up this salad. The lemons and olives lend a briny quality to the dish, the cannellini beans add creaminess, the toasted pine nuts bring the sweet as well as the crunch and the parsley gives a green herbaceousness. All topped off with a delicious dollop of really good olive oil and a pinch of Maldon sea salt, there’s not much more I could want for lunch at this moment.
Have you ever cooked with preserved lemons? I’d love to hear what you’re doing with them in the comments below.
White bean salad with preserved lemons and olives recipe
1 12-ounce jar of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 of a preserved lemon, flesh removed, finely diced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons picholine olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon good finishing olive oil
1/2 tablespoon liquid from jar of preserved lemons
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Once at temperature, toast pine nuts for 10 minutes, rotating and shaking up the pine nuts halfway through. Once nice and toasted, allow the pine nuts to cool to room temperature.
Carefully combine all ingredients taking care not to mash the cannellini beans.
Preserved lemons recipe
(multiply this recipe as needed for your quantity of lemons)
4 meyer lemons, scrubbed clean
1/4 cup kosher salt
extra lemon juice
Cut the meyer lemons in half and then in half again to make 4 quarters with one end still in tact holding the lemon together. Coat the interior and exterior of the lemon with kosher salt. Place the lemons in a clean jar and gently mash them down to release their juices. Add additional lemon juice until the lemons are completely covered with liquid and seal the jar. Keep at room temperature for a few days and then refrigerated for two months or until the peel has completely softened and become translucent. Be sure to occasionally turn the jar upside down and “burp” the lemons by unscrewing the jar top and letting out any gasses.