Are you wondering what to do with your jar of preserved lemons? I made a large jar this winter and this Pearl ( also known as Israeli) couscous salad is a great vessel for these salty beauties. Rinse them off, discard the pulp, finely dice and add with dried cranberries, apricots( dried cherries , prunes or raisins work well here also). Add fresh parsley, cilantro, green onion, olive oil and nuts/seeds of choice. Add salt and pepper. Balance with fresh lemon juice, if needed.
Pearl couscous are like little pearls of pasta. The texture is chewy and light, not heavy like some grains. This dish is very easy and quick to throw together, perfect to bring to a potluck or dinner at a friend’s house. It also is a bit more substantial than traditional couscous and can sit at room temperature for quite a while which makes it my go to salad this summer. The little bits of preserved lemons add an extra pop of flavor, really amplifying and blending all the sweet and sour notes together. This makes a lovely compliment to braised meats or lamb burgers.
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s book, “My Paris Kitchen”. This is one of my favorite cookbooks because the recipes are flavorful and colorful. The ingredients rely on fresh, seasonal produce. Plus, I love David’s sense of humor weaved throughout his stories. He shares Paris with us, seen through his eyes and beautiful photographs.
I’ve changed a few things to the original recipe; swapping out butter for olive oil and adding green onion. I replaced the cinnamon with sumac because I love the extra hint of sour that sumac brings to this dish. The original recipe calls for pistachios but since my youngest daughter has a tree-nut allergy, we replaced it with slivered almonds( the one tree-nut she can safely eat). You can toast the nuts for extra flavor but if you are running short on time, un-toasted will still add a satisfying crunch. If you cannot eat nuts, feel free to leave out or replace with pumpkin or sunflower seeds. This recipe is very adaptable so be creative and have fun!
Preserving your own lemons can seem intimidating however, it is a very easy process besides being enjoyable. I have a recipe for preserving your own lemons with a write up under “Preserved Goods” in the recipe index section or you can access this link- Preserved Meyer Lemons. Of course you can buy a jar but there is nothing better tasting than homemade preserved lemons. I’ve used Meyer lemons here because they grow abundant in Berkeley. Unfortunately, we don’t have a yard but my dear friend Anne, who knows I love these beauties has an over producing tree. She is gracious enough to share her supply. Thank you Anne!
I love the fruity, floral notes mixed with their tart flavor. After sitting out for thirty days, the skins soften and you can use them in multiple ways. In addition to salads, I’ve used them under the skin of roasted chicken, in pasta and as an appetizer mixed with olives. They will last for up to a year in your fridge which will make you feel good about bottling up nature’s bounty.
Happy Friday Everyone 🍋
Preserved Lemon Pearl Couscous Salad
Adapted from David Lebovitz, “My Paris Kitchen”
Serves 4 to 6
Free from: Dairy, Soy, Peanut, Egg
To make the pearl couscous (makes about 4 c):
- 2 c Pearl couscous
- 3 c water
- 1 tsp salt
Bring water to a boil over high heat in a medium pot with lid. Pour in couscous and salt. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for ten minutes. Check couscous. All the water should be absorbed. Let sit with lid on for a few more minutes. Remove and pour onto a parchment lined sheet pan to dry. This is an extra step but it really helps the water from the couscous drain which results in a fluffy, light texture. If your couscous is clumping, don’t fret, once you pour the oil mixture together the pearls will separate.
To make the salad:
- 2 preserved lemons, pulp removed and skins rinsed, (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 c finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro
- 2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 c dried fruit + 1 tbl (a combination of cranberries & diced apricot)
- 1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted( or seeds of choice)
- 1 green onion, finely diced
- 1/2 tsp sumac
- 3/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 4 c Pearl (Israeli) couscous, cooked
- lemon juice, just a squeeze if needed
Cut the preserved lemon rinds into thin, long strips. Finely dice. Add it to a medium size mixing bowl with the parsley/cilantro, olive oil, dried fruit, slivered almonds, green onion, sumac and salt.
Prepare the couscous. Once the couscous is drained and dry, add it to the bowl, stirring until all the ingredients are well mixed. Season with pepper. Taste. Balance with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, sumac or additional dried fruit, if desired.
Transfer to a platter or bowl. Serve at room temperature.
- You can prepare this salad ahead of time, just add the almonds right before serving so they don’t lose their crunch.
- This salad tastes delicious alone or serve as a side with falafel, pita, bean dip or hummus (our version is tahini free). It also tastes great with lamb.