Pink Lemons

Photo: Kang Kim. Illustration by John Burgoyne.

California’s exotic citrus makes its way east when we most crave it, in the midst of midwinter doldrums. Some varieties, like mandarinquats and W. Murcott mandarins, are perfect for out-of-hand eating, but others, like these Variegated Pink lemons, invite a little tinkering. Meredith Kurtzman, the gelato maestra of Otto, indulges her savory side by pickling them with herbs and spices, then featuring them in a tart and tangy salad she pairs with a fatty fish like pompano.

Meredith Kurtzman’s Pickled Pink Lemons

4 pink lemons, available at the Orchard in Midwood
3 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp. shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted and barely crushed
1 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly toasted and barely crushed
a few black peppercorns

FOR THE SALAD (4 servings):
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced, fronds reserved for garnish
1 tbsp. diced red onion
12 picholine olives, pitted and chopped
4 quarters pickled lemon, finely chopped
fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt for dressing

TO MAKE PICKLE: (1) Wash lemons and quarter them lengthwise, removing as many seeds as possible. (2) Bring the lemons, along with the rest of the pickling ingredients, to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat after ingredients boil for about a minute, and let the lemons cool in the liquid. Repeat this process four more times. (3) Pour liquid, spices, and lemons into a clean pint-size glass jar, making sure that lemons are totally immersed in liquid. Cure overnight to allow flavors to mature. Lemons will keep, refrigerated, for 7 to 10 days.
FOR SALAD: Combine ingredients, and dress with fresh lemon juice and olive oil; salt to taste.

Pink Lemons