Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Linguine with Dried-Tomato Pesto

Jars of oil-packed “sun-dried” tomatoes are plentiful on stores shelves (not sure how many of those tomatoes were actually dried in the sun), but you can get the rich, caramelized flavor of gently dried tomatoes from your own oven in an hour or so. The preparation couldn’t be easier and the ingredients couldn’t be fresher: tomatoes.

Two keys to creating sweet, delicious oven-dried tomatoes: low temperature and very thin slices—about one-tenth of an inch thick. A little drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt provide just enough seasoning to enhance the natural flavor of the fruit.

Large Roma Tomatoes 
Thinly Slice the Tomatoes

Pesto is one of the simplest and tastiest sauces you can add to pasta—no cooking involved. Typically made from fresh basil or other herbs, pesto is also delicious with a dried tomato base, as in this recipe. Of course, if you dry your own tomatoes, there is a little cooking involved here. So easy and so worth it.

For a parsley-based pesto recipe, check out Linguine with Garlic Shrimp in Parsley-Pecan Pesto.

Serves 4

  • 4 large roma tomatoes, cut into 1/10-inch-thick slices
  • extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1/3 cup
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup broken pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz linguine
Remaining Pesto Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° F. Line a large, shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Lay the tomatoes in a single layer in the pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.
  3. Place in the oven and dry until very soft and wrinkled, 1 to 1-1/4 hours. When cool enough to handle, transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  4. Place in a sealable container and add 1/3 cup olive oil. Seal and let stand at room temperature 2 hours. (The tomatoes may be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate and let stand at room temperature a couple hours before proceeding.)
Tomatoes Ready to Dry
Dried Tomatoes
Chopped Dried Tomatoes 
Tomatoes in Oil
  1. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and lightly toast, shaking the pan frequently to prevent scorching, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the pecans to a plate and let cool 5 minutes.
Toasted Pecans
  1. Use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the oil and place them in a food processor. (Reserve the oil.)
  2. Add the toasted pecans, parsley, garlic, and tomato paste to the processor and season with salt and pepper. Grind until finely chopped.
  3. With the processor on, slowly pour in the reserved oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and process until coarsely smooth. Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese.
Ingredients Ready to Grind
Ground Ingredients before Oil 
Pesto with Oil 
Dried-Tomato Pesto

Meanwhile, cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add the pesto and stir well to combine with the pasta.

Divide the linguine and pesto among 4 pasta bowls and serve right away.

Linguine with Dried-Tomato Pesto

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Barbecue Pork Tenderloin with Southwestern Chile Sauce

If you enjoy the juicy succulence of oven-roasted pork tenderloin, you’ll love the same great taste and texture straight from your backyard grill. My favorite way to barbecue this especially tender cut of pork is over indirect heat for most of the cooking time, then a quick char over the flames before calling it finished. Cooking it off heat close to the fire mimics the environment of a hot oven, which produces the delicious roast tenderloin you’re used to. But who can barbecue without adding a little of that wonderful char? Two, three minutes and done.

I usually like doing fruit glazes to brush on pork tenderloin, but a smoky sauce made with dried chiles keeps the barbecue theme going start to finish for this recipe. Here, I used mild but very savory guajillo chiles as the base. You could also use New Mexico or California chiles—just be sure to give them a quick toast in a dry skillet before making the sauce. This brings out even more of their savory, smoky goodness.

Serves 4

  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp dried chile flakes
  • sea salt
  • 1-1/3-lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling grill grate
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular dried oregano)
Guajillo Chilles
  1. Combine the chile powder, garlic granuels, and chile flakes in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork tenderloin, cover, and refrigerate 4 hours (or overnight).
Tenderloin and Spice Rub
Spice-Rubbed Tenderloin
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Scatter the guajillo chiles in the skillet, stirring frequently to keep from burning. Toast until fragrant and just beginning to brown in places, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chiles to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem ends and tear the chiles into small pieces. (Discard some of the seeds, if desired.)
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add the toasted chiles, broth, tomato paste, lime juice, cumin, and oregano and season with salt.
  4. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and let stand 15 minutes.
  5. Place the sauce ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (Tiny flakes of chiles may remain. That’s ok.) Transfer to a bowl.
Toasted Chiles
Torn Chiles
Garlic and Onion
Chile Mixture Beginning to Cook
Cooked Chile Mixture
Ready to Process
Chile Sauce
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat with space for off-heat grilling. Lightly oil the off-heat side of the grill grate.
  2. Season the tenderloin with salt and place on the off-heat side of the grill. Cover and grill 6 minutes, then turn and grill 6 minutes. Turn again and mop with some of the sauce. Continue grilling and mopping until the pork is almost done, 18 to 20 minutes longer.
  3. Place the tenderloin over direct heat until char marks appear, 1-2 minutes, uncovered. Turn and mop with more sauce. Grill, uncovered, 1 minute. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.
Beginning to Grill
After Turning 
Mop with Sauce
Barbecue Tenderloin

Cut into 12 slices, transfer to a platter, and serve, passing any remaining sauce at the table.

Barbecue Pork Tenderloin with Southwestern Chile Sauce

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Ground Lamb Pitas with Tomato-Mint Salad

It’s all about the spiced lamb and fresh, minty salad in these flavorful, casual dinner sandwiches. Think Greek salad in a pita pocket with aromatic, Mediterranean-tasting meat—rich but not heavy, and very satisfying.

If you’re serving a crowd and prefer to go meatless, try these vegetarian Tabbouleh Party Appetizers.

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chopped seedless cucumber
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup torn fresh spearmint leaves
  • 2 large pitas with pockets, halved for 4 pockets
Spices for the Lamb
Salad Ingredients
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the lamb, garlic, and onion and cook, crumbling the meat, 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and cloves and season with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lamb is cooked through, 3-4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.
Lamb, Garlic, and Onions
Spices Added 
Cooked Lamb Mixture
  1. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and mint in a bowl and toss lightly to combine. Stir the tomato mixture into the cooled lamb mixture. 
Tomato-Mint Salad 
Salad Added to Lamb Mixture

Divide among 4 pita pockets and serve.