Posts Tagged 'citrus'

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

This is one of my favorite original recipes I’ve come up with.  It started as a need for a dish at a potluck or block party or something.  It was the dead of summer, and temperatures were in 110’s.  It was way too hot for anything with mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, or the like.  I didn’t want anything heavy, or too spicy either.  This was also when I was in a phase of trying to cook with 5 ingredients or less (salt and pepper not included).  I figured a pasta salad, with a bright citrus dressing could really be something.

So here it is:

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

  • 1 Package Bowtie Pasta
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • 1 Pint Grape Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil

Boil the pasta per the directions on the package.

Remove zest from both lemons.

I use a micro plane and I love it.  But you can also use those fancy zesters they sell.

Get all the zest from both lemons.  This is where all the flavor is.

Juice both lemons.  Make sure to strain out the seeds.

Slice your grape tomatoes in half.  If you decide to use cherry tomatoes cut them in quarters.  Rome Tomatoes, in 8th.  Vine tomatoes in 16th.  You get it.  Make em bite size.

Chiffonade your basil.  Chiffo-whatnow?  Chiffonade.  A technique in which herb are cut into long, thin strips.  STart by pinching the leaves from the stem.  Stack the leaves on top of each other, with the largest on the bottom, and the smallest on top.

Roll the stack of leaves up, like a tight cigar.

Then slice narrow strips across the cigar.  You’ll end up with little ribbons of basil as they uncurl.

Place the lemon juice in a mason jar.  Add olive oil to your liking.  I find that most dressing recipes call for more oil than vinegar.  I prefer mine the opposite way.  I usually do about 2 parts acid to 1 part oil.  That’s a good ratio for this recipe too.  You can even do 3 parts acid to 1 part oil here.  The idea is to have a bright, refreshing salad.  Not a thick, heavy, oil laden dish.  Add a liberal amount of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Add your lemon zest.

Now, for my favorite life hack of 2010.  I don’t understand how this never occurred to me before.  Take your blender blade and base, and screw it on to the mason jar.  That’s right.  Blender bases were intentionally designed to fit regular mouth mason jars.  Mind boggling.

But your jar on your blender and blend into an emulsion.  If you don’t have a mason jar, or a blender (weirdo), then you could use an immersion blender, or a whisk if you’re super old school.  If that’s the case, start with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle the oil slowly as you whisk.  You want the dressing to emulsify.

Drain the pasta, and rinse in cold water.

Toss the pasta in cold water to properly cool it.

Toss the pasta, tomato, basil, and dressing together.  Enjoy.

Preserved Lemons

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times now how many lemons I harvested.  That, and people keep giving me grocery bags of citrus.  Right now, I have two bags of grapefruit, a bag of pommelos, a bag of oranges, a bag of lemons, and a bag of tangelos sitting on my counter.  I hate to see food (especially produce) go to waste.  So when people offer it up, I always bring it home.  The tricky part is making sure it all gets used before it goes bad.

When I first looked in to a way of making citrus last longer, I came across Preserved Lemons.  I had never heard of them.  I guess they are huge in Morocco and some other middle eastern/north African dishes.  Preserved Lemons used one of the oldest preservation methods around.  Salt.


Preserved Lemons:

  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Mason jars

Select your lemons.  I find the smaller ones are great for this.  Wash the exterior.

Cut each lemon down from the top, but not all the way through.  Then make a 2nd perpendicular cut, again, not all the way through.

Hold the lemon, slice side up, in the palm of your hand.  Use your fingers to open the cuts slightly.  then pour Kosher salt into the lemon.  Use your hand to hold the salt int he cuts of the lemon.  This is a good time to find all the cuts, nicks, hangnails, and splinters that are in your hand.

Then jam, and I mean JAM the lemons into your mason jar.  Really push em down in there. The juice will start to come out, as you push, and as the salt draws it out.  That’s good.  Keep slicing, salting, and pushing your lemons into the jar.  You need the lemon juice to cover the top of the last lemon you can possibly squeeze in there.  You may need to pour some juice off, or add some. (I had to pour some off).  Just pack those little guys in there until you can.  See the first pic up top?  That’s what it should look like.

Close the jar, and put it in a cool place.  I used one of my cupboards.  Flip it on its lid after the first day.  Then back right side up.  Continue flipping every day for a week.  After one week, move it to the fridge.  Continue to flip for another week.  Now you can start using them.

These guys are salt magnets.  I couldn’t imagine eating them the way they are.  From what I’ve learned, you cut the flesh out of the lemon and discard it.  These are not for sweet dessert recipes that call for zest.  Only savory dishes.

Using a sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as you can.  This leaves you a very flavorful rind.  I swear the preserved zest is even lemonnier than regular zest.  Rinse off the rind to get rid of any residual salt.

These lemons should last a lifetime.  It’s a great way to extend some of your citrus harvest, to have that great lemony flavor in the off-season without buying imported, pesticide laden, lemons.  There are a ton of recipes out there that call for preserved lemons.  Give the old google machine a try and taste some new flavors a try.


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