As I promised in yesterday's post, I've made a couple of dishes that showcase my fresh batch of preserved lemons. I have a few in mind for the preserved limes, so stay tuned. As lemons go, here's the state of the culinary art for now:
Baby Zucchini and Garbanzos with Preserved Lemon
I actually started this as a version of "Zucchini and Red Beans," from Speed Vegan, which employs ras el hanout, a classic Moroccan spice blend I love to use--even in places it might not have been intended to appear. As things in the kitchen seem to go when no specific goal is set, I deviated early on, switching out the red beans with garbanzos, adding green peppers and diced preserved lemon. I also upped the quantity of ras el hanout, and substituted minced fresh garlic for the roasted garlic puree (didn't have any on hand!). For extra depth, I added diced celery. The zucchini I used was fresh from our garden, no bigger than my ring finger--little powerhouses of flavor with texture to match.
This is a dish that virtually cries out for the companionship of properly prepared, buttery couscous, and sometimes I do get out the steamer and take the time to go through all the steps required to do it right. But I just didn't think of it in time, and I can't bring myself to make couscous the American way--pouring hot water over it and letting it soak for five minutes. "Simply not done, dear boy," the ever-present mentor I never had (but nevertheless lives in my mind) would say. Also, truth be told, I'm on a bit of a gluten-free kick these days, and couscous is pretty much nothing but glorified pasta. It was totally acceptable by itself (What am I saying? It was delicious!), and the next day I had the leftovers with quinoa.
The second item I took from "Tagines & Couscous," a fairly small but inspiring cookbook:
Preserved Lemon and Tomato Salad with Capers
What makes this salad so appealing to me--aside from the liberal use of preserved lemon--is the combination of fresh herbs--parsley, cilantro and mint. The tomatoes called for are peeled and seeded, which I most often prepare in the manner of tomates concassés. This is easy enough; all you do is cut a shallow "X" in the tips of the tomatoes, carve out the stem ends, drop them into boiling water, leave them there until the skins begin to split (about a minute, depending on ripeness), and then quench them in an ice bath. The skins slip right off. Normally, I would cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove the seeds. But I decided to preserve the fresh, raw taste of the tomato, so I peeled them somewhat laboriously with a paring knife. Then, to enable long, elegant shapes, I cut the tomato lengthwise and remove the seeds that way--a little more trouble, but well worth it in the end. There was no accompanying photo for this recipe, which gave me additional license to play with it and see how it would turn out. I'll tell you, this is one inspired recipe, and there are others in the book to match, so if you like Moroccan food, this is one for the collection.