A glut of Meyer lemons has had me researching ways to use them before they rot. This recipe for Meyer Lemon Confit by Tara Austen Weaver in the Sunday Chronicle caught my eye. If you have a similar abundance, Meyers make a distinguished Lemon Curd and also do well salted and preserved. The article included a recipe for using the confit with Pasta with Kale. Since my garden also has an abundance of kale, it was a no brainer.
Meyer lemons are a hybrid cross between a lemon and an orange. Unlike the more commonly available Lisbon or Eureka lemons, Meyers are thinner skinned, juicier, and have less of a sour bite. Because of their mildness, they are not always suitable for recipes needing a lot of acid. But their flavor is slightly floral, delicate, and elusive. A bowl of them on the counter will fill your kitchen with fragrance. I once saw my son (as a toddler) pick one from the tree and eat it as if it were an apple.
They are named after Frank N. Meyer. Dr. Meyer was a Dutch plant explorer working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He found them in 1908 near Beijing and brought them back, it was one of about 2,500 specimens he is credited with collecting.
Meyer lemons have thrived in backyards and gardens throughout California, Texas, and Florida. But, they haven’t made it as a commercial crop because they don’t ripen well once picked from the tree and are thought to be too perishable. The Meyer almost died out in the 40’s when they were found to carry a virus, which threatened the California citrus crop (although it didn’t hurt the Meyer lemon). Trees were to be torn out and destroyed. Lucky for us an “improved” Meyer lemon released in 1975 was found to be virus free.
There was a mature Meyer lemon tree in our backyard when we purchased the house 25 years ago. It has continued to provide us with lemons all year almost non-stop all year. The same tree will have mature lemons, immature lemons, and flowers at the same time. Meyers do well in containers, although they are frost tender and should be moved to a protected place in the winter.
Meyer Lemon and Garlic Confit
- 3 medium Meyer lemons (organic if possible)
- ¼ cup of whole peeled garlic cloves
- ½ cup of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
- Wash and dry the lemons. Cut off the ends and slice them ¼ inch thick, removing any seeds.
- Cut the garlic cloves so they are approximately the same size.
- Set a saucepan full of water on high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Blanch the lemon slices for 90 seconds, removing them with a slotted spoon to a strainer set over a bowl. You may need to do this in several batches. Once drained, add them to a medium bowl.
- Add the garlic to the boiling water and simmer for about 4 minutes. Drain but DO NOT TOSS OUT THE WATER IF YOU ARE MAKING THE PASTA DISH BELOW.
- Add the olive oil to the bowl with the lemons and toss to coat with oil.
- Lay the lemons in a single layer in a rectangular baking dish leaving space at one end.
- Add the garlic cloves to the remaining oil in the bowl. Toss to coat. Then add them to the empty side of the baking dish.
- Drizzle with any remaining oil in the bowl.
- Bake for 1-½ hours until the garlic mashes easily and the lemon rinds are soft. Turn the lemons every 30 minutes.
- When done, remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool.
- Finely chop the mixture and transfer it to a tightly sealed jar.
The Lemon and Garlic Confit will keep for a month in the fridge, freeze it for longer storage.
Pasta with Kale and Lemon Confit (serves 4-6 as a main dish)
- 1 pound of pasta, I used linguini
- Water from blanching lemons and garlic
- 2 bunches of Tuscan kale (you want about 5 cups when chopped and packed down in the cup)
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 ½ tablespoons of Lemon & garlic confit
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- Grated Meyer lemon zest, to taste (I used one additional lemon)
- ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Wash the kale and remove any tough center stems. Finely chop the leaves.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil (this can be the left over blanching water plus extra as needed). Once it boils, add the pasta and cook for the recommended time. Drain but do not rinse, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the kale, stirring while it wilts and cooks down for about 2 minutes. The kale will be slightly crispy like dried nori.
- Add the red pepper flakes and salt, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
- Stir in the Meyer Lemon Confit.
- Add the drained pasta to the frying pan; toss to mix with the kale. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems dry.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and taste for salt.
- Serve hot topped with Parmesan.
It was also good stuffed under the skin of a chicken breast, sauteed (skin up), and finished in the oven.
This post is part of the monthly link up party “Our Growing Edge“. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. February 2015 is hosted by Kim at the blog Love, Live, Life by Kim.
I’m also taking this pasta dish to share at Fiesta Friday #54, a weekly bloggers virtual dinner party hosted by Angie at the Novice Gardener. Please come join the fun.