When people first come into my kitchen, the first thing they comment on the abundance of jars. I have them everywhere, both my fridge and shelves full of odd sized jam jars. I’m not much of a pickler or a preserver but I find having jars of things around incredibly comforting. Most are filled with spices from trips, things that I see in foreign supermarkets that I can’t bare not to bring back, or of the last licks of something I’m waiting to cook with. While some jars stay empty for a while until I search for something to fill them again, there is one that is forever topped up — my lemon jam dressing.
Making this is a very meditative task (knowing that it will last for a week’s worth of meals is key). Watching the lemon blister and bubble on the heat of the pan is better than television some days. It fills the kitchen with a scent that smells like barbeques, summer and sunscreen. It’s like the best parts of fish and chips by the sea or shellfish under a grill. Lemons are as essential as salt in my kitchen and I use them for everything, as they are a perfect fruit. But when you char them like this they become something completely new to cook with as you can use the flesh inside the fruit too. At the start of the year, I made huge batches of this dressing for a supper-club I was hosting. Getting to see big, bright bowls of lemons transform into this was a very calming way to spend a day.
As the whole lemon cooks in the pan, the skin and flesh on the cut side caramelises while the inside becomes meltingly jammy. I’ve been making this dressing for years and always have it at home because it’s so versatile. It’s the best because it is not just a salad dressing — it’s amazing on roasted vegetables (try over tomatoes or fennel), drizzled over a slab of baked feta or atop an avocado. The recipe below is enough for one big salad or dish. Double it to make a big jar for your fridge, it'll be
Depending on the sweetness of your lemon, you may need a tiny pinch of sugar to balance out everything. Trust your tongue on this.
80ml of olive oil
Half a clove of garlic
Half a teaspoon of French mustard
Salt & Pepper
A little tiny pinch of sugar
Heat up a heavy bottom pan or cast-iron skillet. Slice your lemon in half and place it flesh side down onto the pan.
On a medium-high heat let it start to char on the outside for around 5 minutes until it’s deep brown and almost black.
Turn down the heat to low and let it cook for another 15 minutes.
Once done turn the pan off and let the lemon cool in it.
Once cool enough to handle, squeeze all of the juice and jammy pulp into a bowl.
Fetch out the seeds before finely grating in half a clove of garlic.
The lemon should still be a little warm which will take the edge of the raw garlic.
Add the mustard, oil and salt and pepper.
Whisk till combined.
Taste and see if the smallest pinch of sugar will round out the flavours - this all depends on your lemon.
Toss through salad leaves, spoon over hot roasted tomatoes or on a fillet of grilled fish - there’s not much this won’t match.