• سلطة الزعلوك المغربية •
Calling all eggplant-lovers! This warm Moroccan Eggplant Salad (Zaalouk) combines cooked eggplant, tomatoes, and classic spices and is enjoyed as a side or alone with lots of bread.
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for more ways to cook eggplants. They are one of my favorite vegetables but I seemingly always get a creative block when thinking of what to make with them. Well, here’s one recipe to add to the eggplant recipe master list! Featuring roasted eggplants that are then simmered briefly in a spiced tomato sauce, this salad will become a favorite of yours that you’ll make again and again.
This dish is called a salad but it’s not that raw and crisp notion of a salad that first comes to mind. Rather, it’s a cooked, warm salad in the same vein as a Sicilian caponata or Turkish patlıcan salatası, both of which consist of a cooked eggplant component with other cooked or uncooked ingredients. You could serve this Moroccan zaalouk as a warm side salad to a main meal. But the best way to enjoy this is just to dig in with plenty of pita bread or, better yet, homemade Moroccan kesra bread. Either way, be sure to drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and squeeze some fresh lemon on top for an especially delicious result.
- 1kg or a little over 2 lbs of eggplant
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- ¼ teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
- 2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes or 2 cups basic tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ to ½ cup (a large handful) cilantro, chopped
- olive oil for roasting the eggplant and for finishing the salad
- Peel the eggplant and slice lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. Drizzle a large parchment-lined baking sheet with a generous Tablespoon of olive oil and arrange the slices evenly. Depending on the size of your sheet, you may need another one to accommodate the eggplant. Drizzle another generous Tablespoon of olive oil over the slices, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and roast in a 450°F oven. Roast until the slices are cooked and browned, around 35 minutes. (This follows a method similar to the one used in my recipe for Eggplant Fatteh, so check it out if you want to see a picture of what the eggplant slices will look like when cooked.) Once they are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes on the counter.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and cook for around 30 seconds. Add the paprika, cumin, and hot pepper flakes and bloom the spices in the hot oil for 10 seconds before quickly adding the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
- Now chop the cooked eggplant slices into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the sauté pan, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- The eggplant should now be fully cooked and tender but shouldn't have disintegrated. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and the chopped cilantro. Give it a taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
-This dish really shines when using fresh tomatoes, but in the winter, when tomatoes are often lacking in flavor, you can easily substitute jarred, strained tomatoes (passata di pomodoro) for part or all of the tomato in the recipe.
-If, after cooking, your eggplant has absorbed all the liquid and the dish has become too thick, stir in a splash of water to loosen it back up.