Pickled vegetables in vivid colors decorate all our food, from falafel eaten out of hand to restaurant tables set with good china and cloth napkins. And there’s a good reason for that. The gem-like colors attract your eyes, then the sharp aroma of vinegar and salt rises up and makes your mouth water. You reach for a few slices of spicy, orange pickled carrots , or green cucumber well brined with garlic – some purple eggplant shiny with olive oil – some olives, in all of their black, green, or brown beauty – and munch. All of a sudden, you’re really hungry.
I discovered all kinds of uses for lemons when I moved to my present apartment. Come winter, the lemon tree in the common yard is loaded with bright yellow, juicy fruit. Having gotten tired of concocting sweet things from the lemons, I discovered a surprising way to use them in savory dishes: preserved in salt. Now I like to lay a slice of pickled lemon on top of a stew about 20 minutes before it’s done cooking; serve quarters of them in a little bowl to accompany lamb chops; chop slivers of them to mix into salad; stir-fry some and scatter them over fish.
The first of the following recipes was taken from Elizabeth David’s Spices, Salt, and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. It’s the recipe I usually use. The second comes from Claudia Roden’s Book of Middle Eastern Food (1974). This book has an updated version from 2004, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I haven’t made this recipe, but intend to for my next batch of preserved lemons. You can hardly go wrong with recipes by Claudia Roden.