Warm Olives with Preserved Lemon


Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook
By John McReynolds, Mike Emanuel, and Fiorella Butron
Recipes reprinted with permission from © Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook by Rizzoli, 2019.  Images: © Leslie Sophia Lindell



Serves 6

Cold olives right out of the refrigerator pale in comparison to ones brought to room temperature, especially after they have been basking in a marinade. Gently warming olives in a slow oven with aromatic herbs, garlic, and preserved lemon results in a slightly softer texture and takes the flavor a step further, imparting a deeper richness. This is an easy do-ahead dish for a dinner party or a complement to wine and cheese. —John McReynolds


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 preserved lemon (recipe below), pulp discarded and peel rinsed and julienned or finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 pound (500 grams) brine-cured green olives, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained 

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a flameproof earthenware or other clay pot over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper flakes, thyme, and preserved lemon and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add the wine and olives and stir and toss to mix well. 

Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake for 20 minutes; the olives will soften slightly. Remove from the oven, uncover, and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and serve warm.



Makes 2 quarts/2 liters

Years ago I asked a Moroccan cook I worked with to teach me her favorite culinary technique. It didn’t involve cooking per se, but she taught me how to make preserved lemons. They have become a favorite ingredient of mine and a perfect use for Meyer lemons. We use these staples of North African cuisine in salads, salsas, and relishes, and, of course, in tagines and stews. It is easy to preserve lemons, and they will last for a year if kept refrigerated. I prefer using Meyer lemons, but any variety will do. —John McReynolds

1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 dried árbol chiles
7 Meyer lemons, 1 1/2–2 pounds (750–900 grams)
1/2 pound (250 grams) artisanal sea salt (about 1 1/2 cups)
About 2 cups (500 milliliters) fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 8–12 lemons)

Mortar and pestle
One 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with lid

In a mortar, combine the pink and black peppercorns, cinnamon, coriander, and chiles and crush lightly with a pestle to release their aromas. 

Using a sharp knife and starting at the stem end, cut each lemon into quarters, stopping just short of the blossom end so the base remains intact. Then, one at a time, open each lemon like a flower and sprinkle the interior generously with the salt. Do this in a bowl to make sure none of the salt is lost. As the lemons are salted, pack them into the jar, pushing down on them firmly so they start to release their juices, layering the crushed spices as you go, and using all of the salt. When all the lemons are in the jar, let them sit for 30 minutes to release their juices.

Add lemon juice as needed to cover the lemons, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and top with a weight such as a rock or similar item to keep the lemons immersed. Seal the jar with its lid and store at room temperature for about 1 month. Once a week, give the jar a good shake, remove the lid to release any pressure, and then recap. The lemons are ready when the peels are tender to the bite with fermented tang. At that point, store the lemons in the refrigerator for up to a year.

To use the lemons, remove what you need from the jar. Remove and discard the pulp, briefly rinse away the salt from the peel, and then cut the peel as directed in individual recipes.