Weeknight Cooking

One Bag of Meyer Lemons, Five Dinners

January 28, 2013

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

Serves 4

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

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Photos by Cristina Sciarra

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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.


figleaf February 14, 2013
Do you refrigerate the lemons or leave them at room temperature. Can't wait to make the recipes. Figleaf
Cristina S. February 14, 2013
While I was preserving them, I kept them in a shady spot outside of the fridge. Once I started using them, I moved them to the fridge. But I have seen varying instructions: google search!
Pix L. February 11, 2013
I'm so happy you shared these beautiful ideas with us...I'm loving Meyer lemons with their slightly sweet and exotic spicy aroma!
Jane D. February 4, 2013
I live Burlingame California and have a meyer lemon tree as do most of the people around here. When I get a bushel of them, I zest and squeeze them and put both in little baggies and freeze them Then use them for drinks, soups, and my favorite..lemondrops.
niche February 3, 2013
I was at Costco and saw boxes of Meyer lemons. I honestly thought to myself: what would I do with so many of them? I think I will go back and get them to preserve it. Thanks!
Cristina S. February 3, 2013
That's great! I've been seeing Meyer lemon recipes a lot recently. Now I want to make desserts.. curd, Meyer lemon pie, loaf cakes, the list goes on!
reddragon February 3, 2013
'tentative moorings to tradition' - he he he
Cristina S. January 31, 2013
vickwc, abeneplacito, and Kathy-- here is the lentil salad recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/20612_lentil_salad_with_meyer_lemon_vinaigrette. Please let me know if I left anything out!
abeneplacito January 31, 2013
thank you! i have a dinner party this week-end, and i may make this as my "back-up" side--in case my first crack at risotto milanese goes badly.
Cristina S. January 31, 2013
Great party!
Kathy E. January 30, 2013
I just bought my first bag ever of Meyer lemons and happen to have all the ingredients on hand for your lentil salad but really need your recipe to do o ~ please help!
abeneplacito January 29, 2013
i'd like the lentil recipe salad, too!

for the preserved lemons, do you have to rinse the salt off before adding them to a dish, or do you use them as-is? thanks!
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Hi abeneplacito, For the braise, I didn't rinse the salt off, but I also didn't need to add any extra salt to the dish. Since everything cooked in the same liquid, the lemon's saltiness seasoned the other ingredients. Of course, you can always add more salt at the end, based on your preferences!
abeneplacito January 30, 2013
lovely. thanks for the extra info!
vickwc January 29, 2013
Cristina, why is it I can only see the recipe for the Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise? I was expecting the titles or the photos to click through. I'm eager to make the lentil salad.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Hi vickwc, The way the feature is set up, the author only provides one full recipe, and then descriptions for the other four. The small paragraph on the lentil recipe tells almost everything, although a few extra details: I cooked the lentils with a smashed clove of garlic and a bay leaf; and I ran the garlic for the dressing through a microplane grater. If you would like the complete recipe, I can enter and upload it for you in the next few days! Just let me know.
vickwc January 29, 2013
Yes, please. I would love that. Thanks so much.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
No problem. I will do it this week!
Waverly January 29, 2013
These all look delicious. We have a meyer lemon tree with lemons ready to be eaten. I think I'll start with the lentil salad. Thank you for the recipes.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Thanks, Waverly :) I wish I had a Meyer lemon tree!
LazizaBites January 29, 2013
I made a one pan chicken dish using preserved marinated meyer lemons:
Marian B. January 28, 2013
I love pizza. I love pizza with lemon. I love pizza with an egg on it. I love naan. I love this.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Thanks, Marian :)
Brain H. January 28, 2013
You just read my mind. Over the weekend, I put up 10 jars of preserved Meyer lemons with a friend. Preserving lemons is easy (it took us about 15 minutes). Waiting three weeks is the hard part.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Kitchen B. January 28, 2013
Excellent. I love the risotto, and the naan pizza is so GORGEOUS! I still have some Meyers from my 34 which my sister helped me bring back from the US, to Nigeria.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Thank you!
Baker1961 January 28, 2013
So when the preserved lemons are ready in 3 weeks, how will you use them?
Kenzi W. January 28, 2013
There are ideas in this very post! And if you'd like more, I know a handy recipe search you could use...
J.B. January 28, 2013
Would you be kind enough to let me know where/what your handy recipe search exists for Meyer recipes; thought I'd hit them all.
Kenzi W. January 28, 2013
Sorry, I should have been clearer! I was cleverly hinting at Food52's recipe search. :)
Try starting here: http://food52.com/recipes/search?q=meyer+lemon+
J.B. January 28, 2013
Nice work, Cristina...I had a bumper crop of Meyers this fall from my little potted tree on our patio. I look for other ideas to supplement those such as you suggest. Thanks for other thoughts. I too write for a master gardener newsletter and am a culinary graduate of many years ago. Can't stop cooking and gardening. Nice photos, I play at that also. Keep posting, it's more than I do.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Thanks, JB. I can't wait until I have a little outdoor space to grow anything!
fiveandspice January 28, 2013
Ahhhh, I need that naan pizza now! Great ideas.
Cristina S. January 29, 2013
Thanks, Emily!