Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I’m going to argue that this is the type of soup that needs to be made to order. While many soups and stews get more complex and enticing after a day or so in the refrigerator, I don’t find that to be true when it comes to soup of the broccoli variety. Am I alone here?
A Favorite Broccoli Cheddar SoupDay-old broccoli soup always smells very strong (and not in a good way) and tastes overcooked, as if from a can. The good news is this version couldn’t be simpler to make, and it’s perfect for those times when I feel like I need something with a serious nutritional punch. I give the soup a bit of an unexpected twist by topping it with golden, crunchy, mustardy croutons. Which you can skip, but I wouldn’t.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

Topping Ideas

Aside from the croutons, this soup likes crusty, toasted walnut bread, or olive bread. It likes a good sheep feta in place of cheddar if that’s what you happen to have on hand, or a kiss of harissa whisked into a bit of olive oil. I know people like to pair broccoli with blue cheese. Personally, I find that to be over-powering, but if you really love blue cheese, that might be another direction to explore. If you have any other ideas, let me hear them – I make this soup often enough that I need fresh angles to work!

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5 Ways to Cook Vegetables

Jerk Roasted Kuri Squash | Naturally Ella

Preparing vegetables will always demand some extra time and care. However, these days we’re all trying to get more vegetables into our daily lives. Knowing more general ways to cook them only works in our favor.

The transformation from raw to cooked never ceases to inspire and once you learn the overall cooking processes, you can tackle any vegetable like a pro. Below is just a start of ways you can experiment with vegetables but hopefully this inspire more vegetable cooking in your kitchen.

Blanching

Blanching is a quick cooking process that involves submerging vegetables in boiling water for a short period of time. This process helps vegetables lose that extreme crispy bite that might be too much for some meals. Blanching works great for items like asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower but can also be great for greens.

How to blanch

To blanch, bring a pot of salted water to a boil with a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop in your prepped vegetables and let them cook for only a few minutes. The timing will depend on the heartiness of what you’re cooking. Spinach will take around 30 seconds while broccoli could be minutes. You want them to still be bright, colorful, and crisp but not crunchy. Strain the vegetables and transfer to the ice bath.

How to use blanched vegetables

I like to use blanched vegetables for vegetable cakes, stir fries, or if I plan on pan-frying the vegetables after blanching. Getting blanching under your fingers is also a good thing to have in your pocket if you ever plan on freezing vegetables (which helps seal in color, flavor, and nutrients.)

Example uses blanched vegetables:

Broccoli Melts
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Garlicky Yogurt Green Beans

 

Roasting

One of my favorite ways to cook harder vegetables like squash is by tossing them in oil and salt and popping them in a 425˚F oven. Let them roast under high heat for 30, 40, 50 minutes – I never really set a timer I just check them occasionally with a fork to test for softness and some good coloring.

How to use roasted vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to lock in flavor and have a bit of char-flavor to the items. Roasted vegetables are perfect as a side but I love adding them to all kinds of meals including pizza toppings, tacos, pasta, and salads.

Example uses roasted vegetables:

Sweet Chili Roasted Sweet Potato Spring Rolls
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Einkorn Risotto with Roasted Asparagus
Chili Roasted Broccoli

Chile Roasted Broccoli | Cooking Component | Naturally Ella

 

Steaming

I often times forget about this option when I am preparing vegetables. When I think about cooking a sweet potato or a hard winter squash, I sometimes get mentally cornered into thinking that turning on the oven is the only way to get the job done.

Steaming takes a fraction of the time, and is easier to clean up because there is no greasy oil or crusty bit of veg stuck to the pan. I highly recommend picking up a steaming basket. This makes steaming a bit easier because you can lift the vegetables out at the end of steaming.

How to steam vegetables

For steaming, all the vegetables should be roughly the same size, to cook evenly. Place about 1” of water in the bottom of a pot. This water should not touch the steaming basket, though. Bring that water to a boil, add your vegetables, turn the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just-tender. The vegetables should be bright in color still (similar to blanching).

Remove the steaming basket and run the vegetables until cold water to stop the cooking process then season as desired! Steamed vegetables do well when finished with fats like olive oil, homemade aioli, or other types of rich sauces.

How to use steamed vegetables

Steamed vegetables make for great side dishes. I also like to use steaming if I plan on pureeing something into a sauce or soup. You could also use as a filling for enchiladas, frittatas, or grain bowls.

Example uses steamed vegetables:

Carrot Baked Barley Risotto (calls for roasting but could use steamed carrots)
Sweet Potato Pasta (calls for roasting but could use steamed sweet potato cubes)
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese (calls for boiling but could use steamed sweet potatoes)

Sautéing

I used to be intimidated by the term sauté – I thought you were only doing it right if you managed to toss the food from your pan up into the air and back into the pan again with a graceful yet incredibly strong wrist action (luckily that’s not so).

How to sauté vegetables

Sauté simply means to fry something quickly in a little hot fat. Cut your vegetables into evenly sized pieces, heat a pan with some oil or ghee, and toss in the vegetables. Coat them in the hot fat, and let the magic of fat and heat work wonders. Shoot for even coloring and frequent stirring until everything is tender and ideally caramelized or tastefully browned.

How to use sauteéd vegetables

Sautéed vegetables work well if you’re already making a meal on the stove-top. Tacos, grain bowls, and egg skillets are all great ways to use sautéed vegetables.

Example uses sauteéd vegetables:

Pan Fried Turnips
White Beans and Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Green Bean Stir Fry
Vegetable Lo Mein

Pickling

This isn’t necessarily a ‘cooking method’ but the fermentation nerd side of me can’t overlook the ease and fun of quick pickling vegetables. There is no canning required, just some vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices if you wish. There are many different variations on pickling, which can be found along with instructions here.

How to use quick pickles

Quick pickles are great on sandwiches, as a topping for salads/grain bowls, or as a simple snack. Many different vegetables work well as quick pickles- just play around and find what you like!

Example uses pickled vegetables:

Hummus Sandwich with Pickled Carrots
Avocado Romain Wedge Salad with Pickled Radish
Caramelized Onion and Cheese Toast with Quick Pickles

Pickled Carrots | http://naturallyella.com

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Most Popular Soup Recipes of 2018

No one loves a good soup or stew more than I do. That said, some soups get much more love than others when I post them here. Seeing as we’re deep in the heart of soup season, I thought I’d wrangle a list of the most popular soup recipes on 101 Cookbooks from last year, 2018. If none of those seem quite right, here’s where you can poke around this archive of past soup recipes

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

1. Best Simple Cauliflower Soup – If you are looking for a go-to simple soup with a short ingredient list. Boost it with a favorite yellow curry paste for a variation. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

2. Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup – A family fave. This taco soup is a hearty melding of beans, and corn, and taco spices, and quinoa. A great main to build a weeknight meal around.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

3. Coconut Red Lentil Soup – A long-running favorite here. You’re looking at a special lentil soup, an Ayurvedic dal recipe from the Esalen Cookbook years ago. Red lentil based, curry-spiced coconut broth with back notes of ginger and tomato, with slivered green onions, and curry-plumped raisins.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

4. White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings – Everyone loves dumplings. This is a hearty white bean soup topped with pillowy dollops of herb-packed pesto dumplings. Simple to make either vegan or vegetarian.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

5. Curried Tomato Tortellini Soup – Another family friendly fave – a lentil and tomato-based stew, dotted with plump, tender dumplings, spiked with a range of spices, and boosted with plenty of spinach. Perfect one-bowl meal.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

5. Vegetarian Split Pea Soup – Perfect for a busy weeknight, this delicious, simple vegetarian split pea soup is made from the shortest list of ingredients.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

7. Instant Pot Minestrone Soup – This was popular with Instant Pot enthusiasts. A fairly classic minestrone, made with dried beans, not canned. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

8. A Simple Carrot Soup – Another simple blender soup makes the list. The base of this carrot soup is spiked with dollop of red curry paste, and then pureed into silky oblivion.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

9. Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup – The quintessential wellness soup. A unique mix of spinach, herbs, garlic, with silky coconut cream, and some green split peas for staying power delivers a potent, alkalizing green soup.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

10. CAP Beauty No Bone Broth – This mineral-rich alternative to animal bone broth was super popular. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

11. The Creamiest Vegan Soup (Cauliflower) – This soup is different than most “creamy” vegan soups I come across. It uses a clever trick to achieve its texture.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

12. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup – Put in the effort to prep the baked tortilla matchsticks, which act as a perfect contrast to the full-bodied, spicy brothy vegetarian soup.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

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Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Chickpea Casarecce

Side angle photograph of a chickpea pasta tossed in a broccoli pesto, served in a large white dish.

Post sponsored by Barilla. See below for more details.

There is nothing quite as delicious as a simple bowl of pasta tossed with a bit of pesto. This take with an easy broccoli pesto pasta is one of the ways I keep the pasta/pesto combination alive during the colder months when basil isn’t as abundant. Best of all, this dish is gluten-free (thanks to Barilla chickpea pasta) with a suggestion on how to make it vegan!

Broccoli pesto

About the pesto:

One of my favorite items to play around with is the concept of pesto. A few herbs, some cheese, garlic, and lemon juice. It’s simple but the possibilities are endless. This broccoli version is a favorite of mine in the cooler months, especially when basil isn’t in season and it can get quite expensive at the store.

How else to use it

This pesto version can be used in all the same ways traditional pesto is used. Slather it on grilled cheese sandwiches. Use on grain bowls. Or, try it in one of my favorite’s, a broccoli melt.

Swaps you can make

Of course, you don’t have to use broccoli. I also love to make a similar pesto using hearty greens such as kale or chard. You could also add nuts, such as pine nuts (traditional), almonds, or walnuts (a good choice with the broccoli!)

Close-up, overhead photo of a bowl of chickpea pasta tossed with a broccoli pesto.

Make it vegan

Cheese swap

There are a couple things you need to change to make this vegan but it’s not terribly difficult. First, swap out the cheese. For the pesto I’d recommend using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan and just leave the parmesan off the topping.

Cream swap

As for the cream, play into the pesto a bit and use a nut-cream of a nut that would work well with the broccoli. Try almond or walnut cream. Or, if you happen to have it on hand already, cashew cream would work well in place of the heavy cream.

Photograph of a full, large white bowl of pasta tossed with a broccoli pesto.

Barilla’s Chickpea Casarecce Pasta

This chickpea casarecce pasta is part of Barilla’s new line of legume-only pasta. I love this fun shape and it’s the perfect pasta for saucey pastas. If you’re using this pasta as a swap for traditional pasta, you might need a bit extra sauce- it soaks up the sauce fast. I like to keep a bit of extra pasta water on hand to thin the sauce as needed!You can find all four varieties (Red Lentil Penne, Red Lentil Rotini, Chickpea Rotini and Chickpea Casarecce) on Amazon

[tasty-recipe id=”37689″]

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Chili Chickpea Smothered Toast

Overhead shot of chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce, all on a piece of toast.

I like every recipe I post on this site. There are countless recipes that never see the light of day. They are probably good, I just don’t like them. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are recipes I love. Like, I could eat this everyday kind of love. These chili chickpeas get that kind of love.

The sauce is really where the recipe comes together. Dried chilis paired with tomatoes and finished with a boost of lemon; it’s hard to go wrong. Also, just a note. It could be chili or chile peppers (and there’s a fascinating read on this from the LA Times.)

Dried Peppers, your friend

If it wasn’t for having a husband and small child opposed to any level of heat in a recipe, I’d use dried chilis for every meal. I already kind of do this through adding crushed red pepper on top of everything I eat. At least with dried chilis, there is a myriad of flavor and heat.

I found when writing this recipe out I had a hard time landing on which chilies to include. I had picked up a bag at the market. The chilies in this bag were not labeled but I believe they were mild red hatch peppers. So, I’d like to just say: find dried chilies with mild heat.

Which chilis have mild heat, you ask? I’m not an expect on this but Saveur has a good base of what to look for in chilies. Once you find your dried chilis, you also need to know how to prep them for a recipe.

Bean Swap

Once you figure out which chili you should go with for the recipe, the rest doesn’t matter (just kidding, kind of). However, the chickpeas in this recipe are not paramount. Use what you have on hand. Big, meaty white beans would be the next logical choice followed closely by a creamy pinto.

Vegan it

You can swap the ghee for something vegan-friendly. However, and this is something I don’t say a lot: the ghee really adds to the sauce. There’s something magical that happens when chili peppers and ghee meet. But in swap pinch, olive oil would do. Also, drop the feta and probably add a bit more salt to make up for that.

Preserved Lemons

I lied when I said nothing else mattered because this dish isn’t the same without the lemon. I shared recently about preserving lemons and many people questioned me on uses. Preserved lemons are great as a finishing flavor when the overall dish needs a bit of pick-me-up.

Of course, if you’re not making your own preserved lemons or don’t want to invest in buying some, lemon will work. Give the final dish a squeeze and small amount zest lemon.

Overhead shot of chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce, all on a piece of toast.

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Two-ingredient Candied Citrus Lolipops

Get ready. These are my new favorite thing, and I suspect they might end up being your favorite thing too. Imagine plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. You bite through the crust, and the citrus explodes with a wave of sweetness. It’s a concept I wish I’d thought of myself, but it’s actually a recipe by Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, featured in Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. Amanda was inspired by a street food vendor in Beijing. And, it’s funny, there is a beautiful photo of her grapefruit pops in the book, but it was her description of the street vendor, and the way his slices lit up the entire street that charmed me into trying them.

Candied Citrus Pops

A couple things to note before making these. It’s helpful to have a block of foam from a package, or the kind of foam you might use to arrange flowers. This helps your pops stay upright after you candy them. The other consideration is how hot to let the sugar get. Amanda recommends going to 275 – 300°F – or until the mixture is light brown. I like the pops that go a bit darker than that, you get a lot of caramel and molasses notes that play of the citrus in magical ways. The blood orange segments I did in the darkest sugar mixture were a complete revelation. But this is all personal preference, so experiment to figure out where you’d like to be on the spectrum. One last thing I’ll mention, if your mixture doesn’t get hot enough, the candy shell won’t set.

Candied Citrus Pops

I found the easiest citrus to deal with was anything easy to peel, with minimal seeds, and small to medium in size. Some of the grapefruits were tricky to peel and keep intact. Kishu mandarins, on the other hand, are a dream to work with (pictured). Play around – this is peak citrus season and this make for a dramatic snack, treat, or dessert!

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Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Every cook should know how to make a simple side salad and lemon vinaigrette. It’s the easy side dish to pair with just about any entrée, comes together in 10 minutes with simple ingredients, and is incredibly versatile. Let me show you how it’s done.

Start with a base of greens. We went with spring greens, but I also love spinach as a base, as well as thinly sliced kale, arugula, and romaine.

Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette from Minimalist Baker →

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes

Citrus season is tops as far as I’m concerned. Bright spots parading by in a spectrum of pink, yellow and orange at the market. Punctuation for dreary days. With that in mind, I thought I’d round up a selection of winter citrus recipes that have caught my attention recently. A reminder of all the different ways we can enjoy citrus season while it lasts. Enjoy the sunshine on your plate! -h

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

1. Clementine Fennel Potatoes (Cocoa Bean The Vegetable) Three main ingredients, none of them exotic, but likely not a combination you’ve had before. Besides being a visual stunner, there’s a strong dose of citrus juice, which rounds out the flavor of the clementines.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

2. Radicchio and Citrus Salad with Burrata (Bon Appetit / L’Oursin ) Source some nice Castelfranco radicchio and burrata and the rest of this dish comes together quite easily.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

3. Blood Orange Gin Sparkler (101 Cookbooks) A great winter citrus cocktail, you can prepare it on the light side for an afternoon brunch.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

4. Szechuan Miso Bok Choy Soup w/ Tangerine (Will Frolic for Food) I’m going to guess you’ve never had bok choy with citrus before? The contrast between the tangerine and the (purple) bok choy is A+.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

5. Two Ingredient Candied Citrus Pops (101 Cookbooks) A favorite recipe of mine, because of its simplicity. Two ingredients and you end up with a treat that is like citrus jewelry.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

6. Creamy Orange Coconut Smoothie (Occasionally Eggs) My blender is on the counter most of the time during winter months, making smoothies. This is a good vegan combination that, along with oranges, features superfood hemp seeds.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

7. Instant Pot Lemon Rice (Piping Pot Curry) A South Indian take on spiced rice, this version combines a handful of spice with a hit of lemon juice that makes this a bright, colorful side dish requiring only 4 minutes of pressure cooking.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

8. Honey Rosemary Grapefruit Soda (Fork, Knife, Swoon) Grapefruit and rosemary is a wonderful flavor combination, this soda is sweetened with honey and can be enjoyed anytime grapefruit is available.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

9. Immune Boosting Winter Citrus Smoothie (Half-baked Harvest) Love the deep, rich colors of this smoothie – break out your clear glassware.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

10. Carrot Orange Turmeric Smoothie (What’s Cooking Good Looking) This smoothie uses an interesting combination of turmeric and orange for flavor with cashews for body and texture. If you are new to adding turmeric in your diet, this is a good way to get a daily dose.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

11. Emma’s Tahini, Orange & Coconut Muesli (My New Roots / Emma Galloway) Love Sarah’s version of Emma’s recipe, which is a unique blend of seeds, tahini(!) and the zest of two oranges for brightness. As many of you know, I’m a fan of a savory breakfast. 🙂

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

12. Red Cabbage Orange Salad (Occasionally Eggs) Another eye-catching, color contrast recipe, with dijon mustard playing off the citrus.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

13. Winter Citrus Roasted Beet Salad (Roasted Root) This is the salad you want to eat for lunch every day for the month of January.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

14. Instant Pot Lemon Marmalade (Chatelaine) Three ingredients and your IP! This recipe is interesting because it uses the pressure cooking mode (for the lemons) and then finishes it with sugar in saute mode.

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

15. Broiled Grapefruit with Honey Yogurt (Cookie + Kate) A classic. This recipe is pure simplicity – sprinkle sugar on a grapefruit and broil. 

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

Bonus! Vanilla Cardamom Chia Pudding + Honey Poached Clementines (What’s Cooking Good Looking) If adding the superfood chia into your diet is a winter resolution, here’s a perfect recipe, which makes a luxe-looking breakfast (or even dessert!).

15 Inspiring Winter Citrus Recipes to Make Right Now

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Saving the season: Lemons

Close-up overhead shot of a lemon slice that has been dried.

There’s nothing quite like having an abundance of citrus. I think it accounts for about 50% of all joy during the winter months. The pucker-inducing flavor, the vibrant color, the bright fragrance: there’s nothing quite like it. And, if you’re like me, you like to have some of these flavors year-round. I use lime/lemons in so much of my cooking- it’s a weekly, almost daily staple.

However, in the United States, not all citrus produces year-round. It’s a seasonal crop that arrives in the late fall and early spring. Luckily there are three different ways to save Eureka and Meyer lemons (and limes!) so that you can enjoy the acid flavor pop anytime of year. Going forward, I’ll be using the general ‘lemon’ but know these techniques will work with different varieties of lemons.

1. Freezing Lemon Juice and Zest

Overhead shot of lemons that have been zest and juiced.

Using your freezer is one of the most helpful tools in saving lemons. I’m always reaching for lemons to finish a sauce or lemon juice for a vinaigrette. Freezing the juice in 1-tablespoon measured ice cube trays and the zest in a freezer-safe container gives you access to lemon juice and zest anytime. One quick note about the zest. I freeze it on a sheet tray then transfer it to a jar when frozen.

Zest and juice will last at least three months in the freezer but could save for up to a year. There’s really no harm in the older juice/zest. However, the flavor will degrade over time. Use the frozen juice/zest as you would fresh juice/zest.

If going this route, I highly recommend investing in a microplane and even potentially a juicer. I love having a hand-held press, primarily for the ease of storage. However, there are other (bigger) citrus juicers on the market or an attachment for your kitchen aid.

 

2. Dehydrating Lemons

Overhead photo of sliced lemons, ready for drying.

Owning a dehydrator is one of the top purchases I’ve made for my kitchen. It may seem big and bulky. You may question why this item is taking up so much space when it only has one function. Well, let me tell you, that one function is amazing.

One of my favorite applications is drying citrus. Not only does dried citrus make for a beautiful presentation, it can come in handy for infusing tea and water or bring a bit of flavor to soups and broths.

You can also dehydrate the peels separate from the segments. Use a spice grinder to make your own lemon powder. Use the citrus powder for spice blends, marinades, and soups. Dried lemons can last years. Be sure the lemons have no moisture left and store in a glass jar so that it’s easy to tell if moisture is happening. See the technique for drying lemons.

Side-angle photograph of a dozen dried lemon slices.

 

3. Preserving Lemons

Close-up overhead photograph of lemons preserved in lemon juice and salt.

Finally, the conversation-starter preservation. While the first two options of saving lemons left the citrus at status-quo, preserved lemons take the flavor up a notch. Preserved lemons are rather magical (and this article from Serious Eats is a good dive into why).

At the base of this recipe, it’s simply lemons and salt. There are, however, many variations. Some ways to make preserved lemons call for extra lemon juice instead of pressing the juice out of what you’re preserving. Some recipes also call for adding spices and chilis. It’s really up to what you think you would like most.

Storing

Best of all, preserved lemons can last well upwards of two years (if they actually make it that long in your kitchen!) After the initial month(s) of fermenting, transfer to the refrigerator and use as desired. Just be sure that your lemons are fully submerged in lemon juice during the fermentation stage. If not fully submerged, mold might start appearing.

Uses

Preserved lemons can be used in many of the same applications as traditional lemons. However, the flavor of preserved lemons can be a bit more impactful and have an underlying floral flavor. Use preserved lemons in dressing, grain pilafs, sauces, stews, and dips (think hummus!) Just be sure to add towards the very end of cooking. Any over-cooking of preserved lemons can drastically reduce that wonderful flavor for which you so patiently waited.

Links for different preserving techniques/flavorings:


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