Whenever my Mum comes to Sydney, she is (more often than not) likely to bring some wonderful, fresh from the country, edible gifts with her for my brother and me. Mostly it is eggs (most welcome!) but before Christmas she came bearing gifts of gold: limoncello, so fragrant and luridly coloured that you would swear that it was artificial, and preserved lemons in all their salty goodness.
Mostly (from what I can gather) preserved lemons are used in Moroccan tagines and the like. But that is not going to happen any time soon for me because it is currently 10 p.m. as I type this and the weather outside is a rather balmy 35*C - not the time for a tagine, no Sir. It's also not the time for sitting slumped over a warm laptop - so I am going to keep the writing part of this post brief before I melt onto the floor.
In my world, right now, brevity is welcome when it comes to cooking. Besides, this dish has such bright, fresh flavours and colours, that you will want to make it and eat it, stat - regardless of the weather.
The beans are gently steamed until they are just underdone and then plunged into icy water to preserve their snappiness. The preserved lemon is scraped clean until just the sunny skins remain and finely diced. Visually, the lemon seems to be lost in the fray of oregano oil, goat's milk feta and toasted almonds - but they are there, little sparks that come and go as you pick over the beans.
Eat it on its own as a salad if you can't bear the heat of the stove or have it as a side dish with some steak or cold, leftover chicken as I did. This is also one of those salads that improves with a little time. I had some leftover for lunch today, when it was 42*C outside with a big old pile of watermelon as a chaser.
Nothing further needed.
Please forgive the approximation of the ingredients, when I make this again I will update the recipe - rest assured, I will be making this again...
Approx 2 handfuls green beans, tops and tails chopped off.
1/4 preserved lemon skin, flesh and pith removed, finely diced.
Approx 1/3 cup flaked almonds, lightly toasted.
50g goat's milk feta, crumbled
Handful of fresh oregano leaves
Approx 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Steam the beans for 3 to 5 minutes or until the beans are just underdone.
Plunge the beans into icy water to cool, then strain and set aside.
Add the extra virgin olive oil and oregano leaves to a mortar and pestle and pound until the oregano has almost disappeared and the oil is lovely and green, you can also do this using a stick blender.
In a serving dish, place the beans, crumbled fetta, preserved lemon and most of the toasted almonds. Drizzle with most of the oregano oil and the lemon juice and toss to combine. Before serving, drizzle the rest of the oil and scatter the rest of the almonds over the salad.
Great eaten then and there on its own or as a side, or is fantastic the next day.