When Life Gives You Lemons…

photo of lemonI went to the Auto Mercado this morning and saw a plastic container of Limon Acido (Persa), or where I come from, what is commonly known as lemons.  What a find!  Whenever I see a citrus fruit that resembles a lemon I try it.  Sometimes the flavor is beyond bland, but today the lemons were juicy and flavorful.  I made some vinaigrette for my salad, and grated some zest to use in a seafood pasta.  And then I used Paula Wolfert’s recipe to make Seven Day Preserved Lemons. The recipe is meant for thin skinned lemons like Meyer lemons, but I like the flavor of the thick skinned Persians.  The preserved lemons are very salty, so rinse them before you use them. Here’s the simplest recipe:


Paula Wolfert’s Seven Day Preserved Lemons:

  • 4 large (about 6 ounces each) lemons (preferably thin-skinned), scrubbed
  • 2/3 cup coarse salt
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 5 large lemons)
  • olive oil

Dry lemons well and cut each into 8 wedges. In a bowl toss wedges with salt and transfer to a glass jar (about 6-cup capacity). Add lemon juice and cover jar with a tight-fitting glass lid or plastic-coated lid. Let lemons stand at room temperature 7 days, shaking jar each day to redistribute salt and juice. Add oil to cover lemons and store, covered and chilled, up to 6 months.

I use the juice from the preserved lemons to make vinaigrette for green salad. It’s particularly good with a greek salad of kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, bell pepper and cucumber.  Add preserved lemon to brighten a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad.

To make delicious olives for appetizers, finely dice a teaspoon of preserved lemon and a tablespoon of parsley.  Coat the olives in this mixture and add olive oil to taste.  Let them marinate for a few hours before serving.

Top a ginger carrot soup with finally diced lemons and parsley.

Be careful cooking with preserved lemons – the rind can become bitter if overcooked.  Add a tablespoon of diced preserved lemon to your favorite seafood pasta.  Or as a final touch for a pasta vodka sauce.  Preserved lemon is used in many mediterranean dishes.  My favorite is Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives.  It’s also great in tomato sauces. Or to make a couscous salad (tabouleh).  Combine with artichoke hearts to make a quick spread for crostini.


Christina Spilsbury and Rick Macsherry have lived in Tamarindo since 1989. They own and operate Sunset Catering.

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