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Shortcut to a Moroccan banquet.

Speedier preserved lemons are the secret to Moroccan lamb with artichokes and other dishes

PRESERVED LEMONS play a crucial seasoning role in the well-spiced dishes of Morocco, in northern Africa. The lemons acquire a distintive salty, bitter-sour flavor when mixed with salt and set in the sun to ferment for several months.

However, there is a faster, nontraditional way that doesn't depend upon endless sunshine and patience.

Jo Kadis of The Catering Caravan in Palo Alto, California, created this simplified, speedy process in order to have an ample supply of preserved lemons for the dishes she presents at her renowned Moroccan banquets.

She cuts the lemons in quarters and freezes them briefly to hasten softening of the fruit cells. Mixed with salt, the thawed fruit takes only about a week to ferment and develop the ideal texture and flavor. Refrigerated, the lemons keep up to 6 months.

Lamb with Artichokes and Preserved Lemons

3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder 1 small (about 5 oz.) onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/32 teaspoon powdered saffron (optional) 3 tablespoons vinegar 12 small (about 2 1/2 in. wide, about 1 1/4 lb. total) artichokes 8 to 12 Moroccan preserved lemon quarters (recipe on page 148) 1/2 cup calamata olives 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Trim fat off lamb. Cut meat into 1 1/2-inch chunks. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine lamb, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and saffron. Cook, tightly covered, over medium heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl combine vinegar and 1 quart water. Trim off stems, tough outer leaves, and sharp tips of artichokes, leaving pale, tender interior leaves. Cut in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard hairy chokes. As artichokes are trimmed, immerse in vinegar-water.

After meat cooks 30 minutes, turn heat high, uncover pan, and stir often until juices evaporate and meat browns, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water; simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain artichokes and add to lamb; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add 8 preserved lemon quarters and olives; simmer, covered, until artichokes are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons liquid from preserved lemons or lemon juice. Skim and discard fat from stew. Pour stew into a bowl and garnish with remaining lemon quarters. Serves 6 to 8.

Per serving: 375 cal.; 42 g protein; 19 g fat (6 sat.); 9.3 g carbo.; 1,510 mg sodium, 137 mg chol.

Tomato and Pepper Relish with Moroccan Lemons

Serve with chicken, pork, beef, or fish. Or offer as an appetizer to spoon into pocket bread triangles.

You can make this refreshing relish up to a day before serving.

2 small (about 3/4 lb. total) green bell peppers 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced 2 tablespoons olive oil 3/4 reaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 or 3 Moroccan preserved lemon quarters (recipe on page 148), chopped

Place bell peppers in a 9-to 10-inch-wide pan; broil 4 inches from heat, turning as needed, until charred on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool. Remove peel, stems, and seeds. Chop peppers. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice for another use. Coarsely chop tomatoes; drain well.

In a bowl, mix bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, oil, cumin, paprika, and pepper. Add preserved lemon to taste. Serve, or cover and chill up to a day. Makes about 2 1/2 cups relish, 6 to 8 servings. Per tablespoon: 62 cal.; 1.4 g protein; 3.8 g fat (0.5 g sat.); 7.1 g carbo.; 439 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Spinach Salad with Moroccan Lemon

2 pounds spinach 1 1/2 cups (3 oz.) finely chopped parsley 1 cup (2 1/2 oz.) coarsely chopped cilantro (coriander) 1 cup (2 oz.) chopped celery leaves 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 Moroccan preserved lemon quarters (recipe on page 148), finely chopped 2 tablespoon lemon juice 6 cherry tomatoes, stemmed, cut in half

Trim off spinach roots and remove bruised and yellowed leaves; discard. Rinse spinach well, drain, and coarsely chop.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine spinach, parsley, cilantro, and celery leaves. Stir over high heat just until greens are wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour vegetables into a colander set over a bowl. Press spinach mixture to remove liquid; place vegetables in a serving bowl. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to a day.)

Return drained spinach liquid to pan; add garlic, paprika, and chili powder. Boil, uncovered, over high heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Add oil, preserved lemon, and lemon juice. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to a day.)

Top greens with tomatoes and pour dressing over the vegetables. Serves 4.

Per serving: 93 cal.; 6.4 g protein; 4.3 g fat (0.6 g sat.); 12 g carbo.; 705 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons

For less sodium, use ripe olives instead of calamatas.

2 tablespoons olive oil 3 pounds chicken thighs, skinned and rinsed 1 large (about 1/2 lb.) chopped onion 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 cup calamata olives (optional) 6 to 10 Moroccan preserved lemon quarters (recipe on page 148) 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) optional

Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and turn pieces often to brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Lift out chicken; set aside.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon oil from pan. Add onion; stir often over medium-high heat until tinged with brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, ginger, turmeric, and pepper. Add 1 cup water, chicken, olives, 6 preserved lemon quarters, and 1 tablespoon preserved lemon liquid.

Cover pan and simmer, turning once, until meat is no longer pink at bone (cut to test), 20 to 25 minutes. Skim and discard fat; transfer chicken and sauce to a wide bowl. Garnish chicken with remaining lemon wedges and cilantro. Serves 4.

Per serving: 298 cal.; 40 g protein; 11 g fat (2.5 g sat.); 12 g carbo.; 2,378 mg sodium; 161 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:includes related article and recipes
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Previous Article:April menus.
Next Article:Easter buffet is easygoing.

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