I have been eying a clay cooking vessel for a while...years actually. Ever since my friend Jacqueline made a ridiculous vegan lasagna in a terra cotta dish. I'm like an elephant, I never forget. And little did my poor husband know that he was about to buy me one on our most recent trip to Sonoma. This idea had been percolating since June when Steve Sando mentioned the new Sonoma clay cookware shop Bram. Perfect! As we drove up to Sonoma I couldn't help but think about my soon-to-be purchase. What shape do I want? What about the color? Which piece will be the most versatile? When we got to the square and began to walk around, I discreetly headed towards the shop. "Oh, look at this!", I exclaimed in my most naive voice. "A clay cookware store. Who knew! Can we go in?" My husband has never once said no to a request that would benefit him culinarily. We were both excited by Bram's gorgeous collection and Gray was so into it, he actually picked out the piece we bought (I've got to let him make a few decisions). As we checked out, I looked to my right to see Paula Wolfert's new book Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share Of course, another book I'd been pining after. "That's a signed copy," said the clerk. "SOLD!" Hey I needed this book and besides, I've got to know how to use the clay cooker right?
So why am I giving you a recipe for preserved lemons and not clay pot chicken with charred tomatoes? Well for one, tomatoes aren't in season (HA, gotcha!) and two, I'm totally intimidated! I know its hard to believe but I am seriously nervous to break in my new equipment. I've read Paula's book cover to cover and already know what I want to make (Bulgar and Greens with Pistachios and Yogurt) but I just can't get myself to do it. YET. That being said, now I've put it out there so I have to do it. Alright, I will. Go Jamie go!
In the meantime, try these super easy preserved lemons. It's a great way to keep lemons you don't have time to use while fresh. They also make a fantastic gift. As for uses, chop them up and put in your eggs, salad, lentils, greens, and grain dishes. Enjoy!
Adapted from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking
3 medium sized organic lemons
1/3 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from your other organic lemons)
extra virgin olive oil
Scrub the lemons and dry well. Cut each into 8 wedges. Mix them with salt and place in a 1 cup capacity glass jar. (I used a 1 1/2 cup capacity jar and it was fine.) Pour in the lemon juice. Close the jar tightly, give it a good shake, and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 7 days. Be sure to shake the jar every day to distribute the salt and juice. To store, add olive oil to cover and place the jar in a cool cupboard or the refrigerator. They will last for up to a year. Be sure to rinse lemons before use.
**According to Paula, a white lacy growth MAY appear in your preserving jar as the lemons mature on the shelf. Don't worry about it. Simply discard it when you open the jar and rinse the lemons before use.