Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Don't think citrus can make a week's worth of dinners easier? Cristinasciarra will make you think again.
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In the dead of winter, when gray cold grips like a vice, I like to keep a bowl of citrus on the kitchen table. It makes me happy. It smells divine, and tends to brighten everything it touches.
Lately, that bowl has held Meyer lemons; I’ve been enamored with their delightfully versatile sweet-sour flavor. These recipes take full advantage of the fruit: the juice, pulp, and zest of fresh Meyer lemons, as well as whole preserved ones.
As for preserving, it’s easy: just almost quarter your lemons, leaving their bases intact, rub their insides with salt, and pack them, sardine-like, into a jar. Make yourself a jar right now -- I’ll wait. They’ll be ready to use in three weeks, but you can also purchase them ready-made at the store.
Lentil Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette To make this lentil salad, dice radishes and sweet potatoes, then roast with salt, pepper, and olive oil until sweet and wrinkled. Mix these with cooked lentils, shallots crisped in olive oil, and and bring everything together with a Meyer lemon-garlic-Dijon vinaigrette. Top with ricotta salata and pepitas. Eat warm or cold, and don’t forget to save some leftovers for lunch the next day.
Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise This dish is Tunisian-inspired, with admittedly tentative moorings to tradition. When you roast all of the ingredients together (with the exception of the couscous), they become soft, spiced, and seasoned with pan juices. Serve over downy couscous.
Meyer Lemon Risotto with Treviso, Serrano, and Pecorino In a wide pan, sauté minced white onion with a knob of good butter. Add your favorite risotto rice, and stir for a minute or two to toast. Spoon warm chicken stock (homemade, if you’ve got it) into the pan by the half-cup, waiting until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid before adding more. Finish the risotto with another lump of butter, fresh Meyer lemon juice and zest, a generous heap of wisp-grated Pecorino, and ribbons of Serrano ham and treviso (regular radicchio works, too).
Naan “Pizza” with Leeks, Meyer Lemon, and an Egg When I want to get dinner on the table quickly, naan is my pizza dough shortcut. For longer, lazier Sundays, feel free to use the real thing. First, fry up some lardons in a pan, and after that, sauté a chopped leek. Stir Meyer lemon juice into crème fraîche, and then spread that across the naan as a creamy base. Scatter the lardons and leeks on next, and then plenty of grated Parmesan. Finish with red pepper flakes and Meyer lemon zest, and then crack an egg onto the middle of the naan. Move the pizza to the oven; it’s ready when the egg white has set.
Whole Fish with Preserved and Roasted Meyer Lemons This dish does double Meyer lemon duty! Dress a whole white fish for dinner by slipping preserved Meyer lemon slivers into slashes on the skin, and filling the cavity with fresh herbs. (I used basil.) The fish goes into a 450-degree oven, accompanied by a handful of fresh Meyer lemon halves and a couple small hot peppers (like serrano or jalapeño). After roasting, de-seed the hot peppers, and toss them into a food processor with a bunch of basil, a garlic clove, salt, pepper, olive oil, and some of the roasted Meyer lemon juice and pulp. Serve the deboned fish with the green sauce and the remaining roasted Meyer lemon halves.
Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise
4 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible 2 garlic cloves 1 nub of fresh ginger 1 tablespoon harissa 1 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 bay leaf 1 fennel bulb 1 white onion 1 medium carrot 4-6 merguez sausages 1/2 cup gem-green olives 1 14-ounce can chickpeas 1 whole preserved Meyer lemon, quartered 1 1/2 cups couscous Sea salt Olive oil
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.