In Advance: Must be made at least 24 hours ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld.
Servings: 1.5 cups
- 2 large preserved or roasted lemons,* seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- Dijon-style mustard to taste
- 1 pound green beans or thin French green beans (haricots verts), trimmed if desired
In a bowl, combine the lemons, oil, shallots, sugar and salt and stir gently. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at least 3 hours so the flavors can mellow, or refrigerate for up to 1 week. (Initially, the flavor might seem a little harsh or bitter. But as the relish rests, the flavor changes markedly.) Taste and adjust the seasonings with additional salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice to taste. If the flavor is too tart, add mustard, starting with 1/2 teaspoon.
Have ready a large bowl of ice water.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the beans are bright green and no longer crisp but not completely tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans and immediately transfer them to the ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking and retain the vibrant color. Drain the beans and transfer them to a clean towel to dry.
Serve the beans with a spoonful of lemon relish.
NOTE: Preserved lemons are available at Middle-Eastern and some specialty markets.
To make roasted lemons, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Using a sharp knife, remove and discard the tips of 2 lemons. Cut each lemon into quarters, remove and discard the central membrane and seeds and cut each lemon quarter in half. Place the lemon slices in a single layer in a small ovenproof dish or on a double layer of foil crimped at the edges, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat. Roast, stirring once, until softened but not browned, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 1 hour.
Adapted from a recipe in "Cooking One on One" by John Ash (Clarkson Potter, 2004):
Tested by The Washington Post.
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