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Zuchini, Cucumber, and Preserved Lemon Salad

April 08, 2024

From My Life in Recipes by Joan Nathan. Copyright © 2024 by Joan Nathan. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

What I really love about good chefs today is the simplicity of their salads, which don’t even need a recipe. This one is made with the freshest vegetables, sliced and flavored with preserved lemon, hot pepper, and mint. What could be better?


For the Preserved Lemons

  • About 16 lemons
  • About 1 cup (240 grams) kosher salt
  • 4fresh bay leaves (optional)
  • 2tablespoons olive oil

For the Zuchini, Cucumber, and Preserved Lemon Salad

  • 1clove garlic, minced
  • 1green chile, such as jalapeño, minced
  • Rind of 1⁄4 preserved lemon (page 251), minced
  • 2tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • ½teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1small zucchini
  • 1small yellow summer squash
  • 3Persian cucumbers
  • Handful of mint, torn Squash blossoms, torn (optional)
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


To make the Preserved Lemons

  • Step 1

    Cut off the very ends of eight of the lemons. Slice each one lengthwise into quarters, cutting to but not through the opposite end. Gently open half the lemon over a bowl, and sprinkle a scant tablespoon salt into it; then open the other half and add another tablespoon.

  • Step 2

    Put the lemons into a large jar—it’s fine if you have to pack them in, because they will shrink. Juice the remaining lemons, and completely cover the cut ones in the jar with their juice. Slip in the bay leaves, if using. Let the lemons sit for a day, lightly covered with a towel.

  • Step 3

    The next day, pour a thin film of olive oil over the lemons and their juice. This will help keep them sealed while they are being preserved. Now cover the jar tightly and put it into the refrigerator, or store at room temperature, allowing the lemons to cure for 3 to 4 weeks, or until the rinds are soft. They will last for at least a year.

To make the Zuchini, Cucumber, and Preserved Lemon Salad

  • Step 1

    Whisk the garlic, chile, preserved lemon rind, lemon juice, oil, and salt in a salad bowl.

  • Step 2

    Cut the zucchini and yellow squash into 11⁄2-inch-long slices, about 1⁄2-inch thick, and add them to the salad bowl. Slice the cucumbers into 1⁄4-inch rounds, and add them, along with the mint and squash blossoms, if using. Toss everything together with your hands. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve this with other summer salads.