preserved lemons

What to do with preserved lemons

Got a jar of preserved lemons lurking in the back of your fridge and don't know what to do with them? Look no further. From dressings to salads, stews, and as a flavouring for Middle Eastern dishes, we've got 10 imaginative ways of using them up. And they're all pretty easy, too!


1. Make a dressing

We use preserved lemons a lot in the olive test kitchen, and they’re usually finely chopped in dressings for salads or fish. Here, it’s paired with a roast leg of lamb for a lighter, summery dinner rather than having a lamb roast. We’ve mixed it with capers, white wine vinegar, olives, garlic and plenty of fresh herbs for a sunny dressing with a big punch. You could add it to your regular salad dressings for a zesty kick – it’s more fragrant than regular lemon juice.

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2. Put preserved lemons in a salad

Instead of adding preserved lemon to dressings, try adding it to more robust dishes such as lentil salads to brighten up pulses. It’s really lovely with puy lentils and kale like the recipe here. Top with plenty of goat’s curd, labneh or yogurt for a healthy but filling meal.


3. Cook them in a stew

Adding preserved lemons whole to one pot dishes means you get a more aromatic flavour. Or if you’re a die-hard preserved lemon fan, cut them into strips and add them to a chicken stew with olives and thyme… it’s like being transported to Morocco.


4. Pair them with cheese

Rich baked ricotta is paired with preserved lemon to cut though the creaminess in this dish. It’s a great vegetarian dinner party starter. If it’s too hot outside to turn the oven on, try whipped goat’s cheese (such as this one) with the preserved lemon dressing instead.


5. Give an extra dimension to middle eastern cooking

Preserved lemon isn’t the predominant flavour in these little spinach, feta and onion parcels, but they add something extra to the classic combination. You could add it to most spinach dishes for a fragrant hint, including spinach and mushroom pilaf, veggie lasagne or creamed spinach.


6. Use them as a condiment

The Palomar’s shakshukit (essentially a deconstructed kebab) is a dish from Jerusalem of spiced mince meat, topped with plenty of dips including harissa, tahini, pesto, tapenade and, of course, preserved lemon. There might be quite a few ingredients in the list, but it’s totally worth it and would be a great starter to a Middle Eastern sharing menu.


7. Add them to salsas

Try pan-fried halibut topped with crispy panko breadcrumbs, with a super easy salsa dressing of tomato, preserved lemon, chives and olive oil. This would be great with any white fish for a quick supper. Just serve with seasonal veg, and you’ve got a healthy mid-week meal.


8. Add them to fish curry

Preserved lemon is great in fresh tomato fish curries. This one is spiced with cumin, coriander, saffron and lemon juice. Serve in a tagine with buttered couscous and a dollop of harissa for a quick but impressive main.


9. Use them with fresh lemon to create new flavour profiles

Whoever thought of griddling cucumbers is a genius. We’re fully on board. This recipe comes topped with sweet brown shrimp, coriander and yogurt. By mixing fresh lemon juice and preserved lemon peel, you get a really rounded lemon flavour which works well in this fresh dish. Spinkle over some toasted flaked almond and serve with crusty ciabatta for a main, or divide between small plates for a beautiful summery starter.


10. Add them to grains

Stir through spelt, barley or couscous and serve with Morroccan inspired stews, or perk-up cauliflower couscous  with pomegranate, mint, red onion and lemon for a fragrant side dish that works especially well with these venison and mutton kofte.


Learn how to make your own preserved lemons here with our recipe


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