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
FOR THE PICKLE:
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.