Zaalouk is a delicious Moroccan eggplant and tomato dip with spicy pepper. Serve this roasted eggplant as salad or dip with olive and spice.
Making (Not So) Delicious Eggplant
I cannot tell you how often I've had badly prepared eggplant in North America.
Everyone around the Mediterranean knows that eggplant is God's delicious gift to mankind. Done right, this rubbery plant can become a luscious, silky dip, perfect accouterments for a Middle Eastern sandwich, or the little bites bursting with flavors in a rich eggplant and tomato salad or dip for the world's best eggplant shakshuka.
But too many times in North America have I excitedly ordered it off a menu, or tasted it at a potluck, only to be greeted with an inedible piece of rubbery, cold and bitter mush. Far too often around these parts, eggplant has been turned into a crime against humanity.
To anyone who claims to hate eggplant, I urge them to try this roasted eggplant salad duo. Traditional zaalouk is a simple Moroccan delicacy, a salad made with eggplant, easy but zaalouk is amazingly delicious.
What is zaalouk?
Zaalouk is an amazingly delicious Moroccan dish that is popular throughout the country. It is typically made from roasted eggplant pieces mashed into a puree, combined with tomatoes, garlic, and a variety of spices.
This flavorful mixture is then cooked over low heat, stirring occasionally with a touch of olive oil, until it thickens into a creamy dip with a smooth texture.
This cooked salad is often served as a side dish, but it can also be enjoyed as a main course, especially when served with fresh bread or couscous.
It is typically served as a side dish or appetizer, and is often accompanied by bread, pita or shawarma in pita.
There are many zaalouk variations - and this recipe offers two! The ingredients used in this dip vary from region to region and family to family, but the core components remain the same.
Overall, zaalouk is a popular Moroccan dish: a flavorful and simple dish that perfectly captures the essence of Moroccan cuisine.
How to choose the right eggplant?
The base for Moroccan eggplant dip is a good, firm eggplant, its vine still glowing a healthy bright green. If you can't find this kind of eggplant at the market or the store, I beg of you, don't even try to go through with your eggplant preparation.
Though there are things you can do to manipulate your poor vegetable, the result will most often be a watery, bitter eggplant dish without the desired consistency.
Ingredients to make Zaalouk Roasted Eggplant Salad:
- Large eggplants
- Tomatoes, chopped finely
- Hot green peppers, chopped finely, seeds removed
- Minced garlic
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
How to make this Moroccan Zaalouk Recipe :
How to cook the eggplant:
Turn on the oven or grill to a high heat. Do not prick your eggplant flesh, or wrap it in tinfoil; just lay it on an aluminum-covered baking sheet (or better yet, directly on the grill), and roast the eggplant.
Let it go to town for as long as it takes until the eggplant is completely, utterly blackened, turning it occasionally to ensure an even blistering (approximately 30-40 minutes).
Peel the eggplants
Then, using plastic thongs or your hands (NEVER metal), put the eggplant (and bell peppers, if using) in a plastic bag and let rest until cool enough to handle.
Once cooled, peel the eggplant (and bell peppers) with your hands, and remove the flesh. Drizzle with a bit of lemon and set aside, covered in plastic wrap.
Mix the ingredients
Chop the rest of the ingredients to make Moroccan zaalouk. Season, taste, and correct seasonings as needed. The salads can be served immediately, served hot or cold, though they get even better with the rest.
Tomato-basil roasted eggplant Moroccan salad variation:
If you'd like to take this Moroccan eggplant salad in another direction, you can try this eggplant and tomato salad variation. You will need:
- Large eggplants
- Finely chopped tomatoes
- Yellow red, or orange peppers (or a mix thereof)
- Paprika powder
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- Fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to make this zaalouk dip variation?
The difference in this preparation is that you roast the peppers and eggplant and then follow the spices and flavors of this particular variation.
While zaalouk can be a healthy choice, it depends on the preparation method and the ingredients used. The dish is healthy and nutritious, as eggplant is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can be a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, if the eggplant and other vegetables are overcooked, or if unhealthy oils or excessive amounts of salt or sugar are added, it could become a less healthy option.
If you have too much zaalouk left over or want to make a big batch in advance, you may be wondering if it is possible to freeze it for later. The answer is yes, you can freeze zaalouk. However, keep in mind that the texture and taste may slightly change after thawing. The tomatoes and eggplant become slightly mushy and lose some of their firmness, but the flavour is still intact.
To freeze zaalouk, simply let it cool down to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container, and place it in the freezer. It will last for up to three months. When you are ready to eat it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
Eggplants can often be quite bitter, but there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the bitterness and make them more enjoyable to eat. One method is to salt the eggplant before cooking it, which draws out some of the bitter juices. To do this, cut the eggplant into slices or cubes, sprinkle generously with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes before rinsing off the salt and patting dry. But I find that if you buy fresh, firm eggplant, you will have no issues with bitterness!
Baba Ganoush and Zaalouk are both delicious Middle Eastern dips that are often served as appetizers. The main difference between the two is the primary ingredient used to make them. Baba Ganoush is made with eggplant that is roasted and then mixed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. The resulting dip has a smoky flavor and a creamy texture.
In contrast, Zaalouk is made with tomatoes, mixed with spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic, creating a flavorful and chunky dip. Both dips are typically served with pita bread or vegetables for dipping. While they may look similar, their distinct ingredients and preparation methods give them unique flavors and textures that set them apart.
For more mezze dips:
Zaalouk Moroccan eggplant salad (two variations!)
Zaaluk roasted eggplant salad:
- Turn on the oven or grill to a high heat. Arrange the eggplant on an aluminum-covered baking sheet (or better yet, directly on the grill), and grill until the eggplant is completely, utterly blackened, turning it occasionally to ensure an even blistering (approximately 30-40 minutes).
- If making the tomato-basil roasted eggplant salad, add the bell peppers to the oven about 15 minutes after the eggplant.
- Then, using plastic thongs or your hands (NEVER metal), put the eggplant (and bell peppers, if using) in a plastic bag and let rest until cool enough to handle.
- Once cooled, peel the eggplant (and bell peppers) with your hands, and remove the flesh. Drizzle with a bit of lemon and set aside, covered in plastic wrap.
- Chop the rest of the ingredients. Season, taste, and correct seasonings as needed. Add a drizzle of olive oil right before serving.
- Serve Moroccan zaalouk immediately, though it gets even better with time. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Welcome to At The Immigrant's Table! I blend my immigrant roots with modern diets, crafting recipes that take you on a global kitchen adventure. As a food blogger and photographer, I'm dedicated to making international cuisine both healthy and accessible. Let's embark on a culinary journey that bridges cultures and introduces a world of flavors right into your home. Read more...