(Photo/Rawpixel CC0)
(Photo/Rawpixel CC0)

Preserved lemons give summer grilling a punch of flavor

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With a summer’s worth of Shabbat dinners ahead of me — and Fourth of July barbecues right around the corner — I have been focused on the grill.

These two grilled dishes — potatoes and kale — get their flavor punch from the same source: preserved lemon marinade and dressing.

Preserved lemons are a traditional Jewish North African, Middle Eastern and Israeli ingredient. They add a slightly salty, tart, citric punch. Jarred preserved lemons are available online and in kosher stores, Middle and Near Eastern stores and specialty stores. Some supermarkets also carry them. See the note for a substitute.

Try serving these sides with my grilled chicken recipe that features not one but two Israeli hot sauces.


Grilled Potato Skewers

Serves 4

  • Preserved lemon marinade and dressing (see recipe below)
  • 10 medium (2 lbs.) Yukon potatoes
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro or parsley
  • ¼ tsp. ground sumac or paprika
Grilled Potato Skewers
Grilled Potato Skewers

Have marinade ready. Scrub but do not peel potatoes. Cut in half. Bring large pot of water to boil with salt. Add potatoes. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer potatoes until almost cooked through but still slightly firm (10 to 15 minutes).

Drain potatoes, discarding cooking water. Immediately toss potatoes with marinade in large bowl. Marinate 20 minutes, tossing occasionally. Thread a metal skewer through the thickest part of five potato halves. Repeat with 3 more skewers.

Brush grill or grill plates with oil. Heat outdoor grill, electric grill or stovetop grill pan to medium-high. Place skewers on heated grill. Grill, occasionally turning and basting with marinade, until potatoes are cooked through and have nice grill marks, 12 to 17 minutes. Sprinkle skewers with chopped cilantro and sumac.

Make ahead: Cook potatoes and refrigerate in marinade. Bring to room temperature. Allow additional grill time. If needed, baste with olive oil while grilling.


Whole Leaf Grilled Kale

Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 bunch whole leaf kale with stems
  • Vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup preserved lemon marinade and dressing (see recipe below)
Whole Leaf Grilled Kale
Whole Leaf Grilled Kale

Slice off only the very hard ends of stems. Wash kale but leave intact. Do not dry. Brush grill or grill plates with vegetable oil. Heat outdoor grill, electric grill or a stovetop grill pan to medium-high.

Working in batches, lay each leaf flat and cook until stems begin to soften and leaves begin to char and crisp up (timing varies; about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Flip and cook the other side. Remove cooked kale to serving dish. Toss or drizzle with dressing.


Preserved Lemon Marinade and Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 Tbs. minced preserved lemon with peel and flesh (see notes for alternative)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. crumbled dried mint leaves
  • ½ tsp. ground sumac or 1 tsp. grated minced lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. red chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic

Mix preserved lemon in large measuring beaker (or medium bowl) with olive oil and lemon juice. Mix in mint, sumac, chili flakes and salt. Stir in cilantro and garlic. Can be made ahead and kept refrigerated. Use at room temperature. Stir well before using.

If making both potatoes and kale, reserve ¼ cup of mixture to use as dressing for the kale, and use the rest for the potatoes. (There will be plenty for the marinade.) Keep leftover dressing in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use as a salad dressing or marinade for fish, chicken or vegetables.

Notes: Keep unused preserved lemons with brine in its jar in refrigerator for up to 6 months, for use in other dishes. If not available replace 1 Tbs. minced preserved lemon with 1 Tbs. lemon zest, 1 tsp. lemon juice and ¼ tsp. salt.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].