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Persian Delights with Saffron and Preserved Lemons

This recipe is equally delicious with chicken, seafood (I’ve used scallops, shrimp and fish fillets), or tofu. If you’re using chicken, my favorite is Eberly’s because of the flavor. If using tofu, The Bridge is nice and firm. When using another tofu, the extra-firm Nasoya, for instance, take it out of the package, put it next to the sink and put a cast iron skillet on top for about an hour to press out some of the water.

You get to use saffron, which is the most expensive spice in the world because it is harvested by hand with tweezers for a yield of two threads per plant! It does impart an indefinable something wonderful. Of course you can substitute a pinch of turmeric, which is called “poor man’s saffron.”

Makes 4 servings                                                       roast in 425 degree oven

4 Eberly’s chicken thighs, 1# seafood, or 1# tofu

1 tsp black pepper

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 C good olive oil, NOT if using chicken

¼ tsp crumbled saffron threads

1 or 2 Les Moulins preserved lemons*,

1 tsp ground ginger

   sliced thinly

1 tsp good salt

12 little black pitted Nicoise olives

In a little bowl, mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil too, unless you’ve chosen chicken as your protein source.  Rub or brush this seasoning mix on your chicken, seafood or tofu. Place in a single layer in a baking pan – I like to use my paella pan – and then garnish with preserved lemons and olives. It will look very pretty! Roast at 425 degrees.

If using tofu, slice into ¼-inch slices. You can slice length-wise or cross-wise.

How long to roast? Depends. Chicken will take 25 minutes. Tofu about 10. Fish fillets about 10 minutes (depending upon thickness of fillet), or until translucent when you break off a corner with a fork. Shrimp and scallops about 15 minutes.  

*Can you make your own preserved lemons? Epicurious says yes. Here are their directions for an easy, quick way to make them. 6 thin-skinned lemons, scrubbed, trimmed at both ends, and sliced 1/8” thick. Toss lemons with 6 Tbsp coarse salt. In a baking dish that can hold the lemons placed in a single layer, cover with 1 C fresh lemon juice. Bake lemons, covered, in a preheated 200 degree oven for 3 hours. Let lemons cool and transfer them with their brine to an airtight container. They keep, chilled, indefinitely.

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