Asparagus with Preserved Lemon

I wish I could remember where I first saw roasted asparagus with preserved lemon. I do remember the first time I served it at Easter brunch, when everyone was pretty much lunging over the table to stab their forks into the lemon rind bits on the platter after their first bites. The first time I saw preserved lemons themselves was a row of lovely glass jars full of them on a shelf in a Middle-Eastern restaurant in Seattle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a pretty shade of yellow. Once I saw them I had to learn how to make them myself, mostly so I could see that yellow shade as often as possible. Preserved lemons are easy to make: Take a couple of lemons, juice one and quarter one. Get a small, sterilized, pretty glass jar. Sprinkle coarse salt liberally over the quartered pieces and pack them into the jar and don’t worry if you squeeze out more juice doing so. You may need more lemons, depending on how big your jar is. Pour the juice into the jar and add another teaspoon salt per lemon. Try to make sure the lemon wedges are covered in liquid. Screw the lid tightly onto the jar and set it in a cool, dry place. Every couple of days, turn the jar over or give it a shake to mix the juice and salt. After three weeks the lemons are ready to be used, and they keep for ages in the fridge once you open the jar. To use them, pull out a wedge and briefly rinse it off under the kitchen tap to remove the excess salt. I usually discard the pulp as it is very soft, but you don’t have to. Cut the rind with or without pulp into small bits and add to your favorite dressings and sauces. I’ve tried buying preserved lemons in “regular” grocery stores and from specialty shops, and I’ve always found the product to have a strong chemical aftertaste, even if the only ingredients listed are lemons and salt. As easy as they are to make (and cheap!) there really isn’t any reason to buy them.
By / Photography By E. S. Bruhmann | March 01, 2012

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon
  • ½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°. Put asparagus in a wide, shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss the spears to coat them. Sprinkle with minced preserved lemon, then sprinkle with coarse salt.
  2. Roast asparagus to desired doneness (10 minutes for medium-thick spears). Serve immediately. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon
  • ½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
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