Here in quarantine, we can use all of the thrills we can get. You can run through sprinklers, for a start, or cull your coffee mug collection (Lord knows we have too many) but here’s one that you can actually eat: Adeena Sussman’s 24-Hour Salted Lemon Spread.
I’m a bit obsessed with Adeena Sussman’s cookbook, Sababa. Everything that I’ve made from it has been an enormous hit: the herb and garlic kebaburgers, the creamy green shakshuka, even just the white tahini sauce with garlic that you make in the food processor with ice water (it makes it fluffy). But this salted lemon spread is something else. It’s not for the faint of heart: it’s very salty, very lemony, a little bitter and a little hot from the chiles (I used habaneros). But oh how it enlivens an otherwise humdrum dinner.
For example, the other night I shallow-steamed haricots verts and some Romanesco florets, then seared some salmon in Canola oil (I normally use grapeseed but couldn’t find any). The dinner would’ve been tasty, but then I stirred some of the salted lemon spread into the vegetables and WHAM! POW! They became exciting. And I put more of the spread on the plate for dipping the salmon, and that too started singing like Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Then yesterday, I was eyeing an heirloom tomato on the counter and the loaf of sesame sourdough I’d purchased from Cookbook in Echo Park (where you shop one customer at a time, which I love). I decided to mix some of the salted lemon spread with mayo, spread it on slices of the sourdough, top with arugula tossed in olive oil and white Balsamic, and then thick slices of the tomato. It was a tomato sandwich for the ages.
So how do you make it? I suppose this is the place where I should just put the actual recipe so those who like to skip over all of the writing I did above can just read it and make it themselves. Fair enough! Here you go. Hope it wakes up your quarantine the way it’s woken up ours. And if you come up with other exciting ways to use it, please share them here.
Adeena Sussman’s 24-Hour Salted Lemon Spread
- 3 to 4 large lemons (1 pound), preferably thin-skinned, scrubbed
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small green jalapeño, seeded and chopped I used a habanero because I like the heat and the fruitiness
- 3 Tbs kosher salt
- 2 Tbs Canola or other neutral-flavored oil
- Trim the tops and bottoms from the lemons and slice each one into 8 wedges, then trim and discard all the visible white membranes from the tips of the wedges and remove and discard the seeds.
- Cut each wedge crosswise into 3 chunks (oops, forgot to do this!) and toss them in a medium nonreactive bowl along with the garlic, jalapeño, and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, tossing every 8 hours if you can.
- Transfer the contents of the bowl to the bowl of a food processor and puree with the canola oil until just about smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stored in an airtight container, the 24-Hour Salted Lemon Spread will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Other Lemony Condiments:
Meyer Lemon Relish (Food & Wine)
Preserved Lemon Gremolata (Feasting at Home)
Preserved Lemon Spread (Gather A Table)