Friday, December 26, 2008

Broccolini with Preserved Lemons

Now that Christmas is "over," although in my home we keep our decorations up for the full 12 days of Christmas, I feel that it is necessary to eat something healthy to counteract all of the heavy, albeit delicious, meals we have consumed over the past several days. And in my fridge, I happened to have a small bunch of baby broccoli that needed to be cooked. I looked up several recipes to try to find something more inspired than the sauteed variety that I usually find myself making, and I came across a recipe for braising with preserved lemons that sounded interesting.

In my fridge, I have a jar of unused preserved lemons that I made in August, after picking several beautiful Meyer Lemons from a friend's backyard tree. I had all but forgotten it, as it was shoved in the back of the shelf, hidden behind the multitude of half eaten jams. Quite excited to use some of my handmade treasure (although the recipe only called for TWO slices), I headed to the kitchen to see what I could do.

The recipe was so simple, and the sourness and saltiness of the preserved lemons complimented the bitterness of the broccolini beautifully. Making your own preserved lemons is really easy, and Meyer Lemons are available in farmers markets now, although regular lemons can be substituted. And if you don't want to make them yourself, you can buy them in specialty markets too.

Preserved Meyer Lemons

1- 1 1/5 pounds Meyer lemons (5 to 6)
1/3 cup coarse salt
1/8 cup olive oil

Blanch 4 lemons in boiling water 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut lemons into 8 wedges each and discard seeds. Toss with salt in a bowl and pack into 1 pint jar.

Squeeze enough juice from remaining lemons to measure 1/2 cup. Add enough juice to cover lemons and cover jar with lid. Let stand at room temperature, shaking gently once a day, 5 days. Add oil and chill.

Preserved lemons will last for up to one year in the refrigerator.

Braised Broccolini with Preserved Lemons
adapted from a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

1 pound baby broccoli or broccolini
1 C low sodium chicken broth
2 slices preserved lemon
1 large pinch dried, crushed chili peppers
1 t dried dill (or 1 T fresh)
1 T butter

In a pot simmer chicken broth, lemon, chili, and dill for 15 minutes to blend flavors. Chop broccolini into 1-2 inch pieces and place in pot along with the butter and stir to coat. Cover pot and simmer for 5 minutes more, or until desired tenderness (I like mine crisp). Remove with slotted spoon and serve.

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