Yup. I’ve been holding out on you. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with you before. Shame on me! Well, no more. This is the quintessential holiday, any day dip, spread or hand me a spoon dish! I’ve been making Zaalouk for at least 30 years. I think (but I can’t be certain) the original recipe came from The Chicago Tribune, back when it was a fabulous newspaper. Anyway, it’s in “the book”…that’s the little book I’ve had for decades, which contains the best of my recipes. Anyway…
This couldn’t be simpler. Really. Would The Goddess kid you? She would not…not about eggplant. You pretty much dump everything into a large casserole, give it a good stir and then into the oven! I usually double the batch, because it goes too quickly, it keeps well and seems to just get better with age. But…isn’t there always a “but”? This MUST be made ahead. Okay, must might be a bit hyperbolic, but it is just sooooo much better the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that…oh, look. It’s all gone!
A couple of things to note…I add grated garlic at the end of the roasting and I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules over the raw eggplant. We like garlic. We like garlic a lot! This time I used Pomi® “Finely Chopped Tomatoes”, so there was more pulp and less juice. Therefore, this is thicker than usual. I also used whole (toasted) cumin seed. At the end, I felt it needed more cumin, so I added a little more. And I used half smoked and half sweet paprika. So, you see, make it to suit your personal taste. Oh, yes…I like it chunky, rather than puréed…again. Personal taste. Enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant Dip (Zaalouk)
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes*
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use about 5-6 cloves, grated)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, (optional, see NOTE)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I use about 1/3 cup, but I like this a bit sharp)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin (toast whole seeds, then grind them, if possible)
- 1 tablespoon paprika (use smoked sweet paprika, if you wish)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil (I used about 1/4 cup of really good flavored olive oil)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, undrained
*If you wish to salt the eggplant, sprinkle it with a couple of tablespoons of salt; toss it around and throw it into a colander to drain for about 30 – 45 minutes. Rinse it off and just take your hands and squeeze the eggplant and continue on with the recipe.
Place the eggplant and onion in an oiled 13 X9-inch baking dish. In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Pouring slowly, whisk in the oil. Pour this mixture over the vegetables, turn with large spoon to coat, and then spread tomatoes over all. Add salt to taste and bake in a 350F degree oven until eggplant is tender and soft, about 45 minutes; stir about every 15 minutes (I find it takes a little longer, but I like the liquid to evaporate quite a bit and for the edges to become browned). Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. If you wish to purée the mixture, you should let it stand for 15 minutes, then purée in a food processor. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with pita or garlic bread.
NOTE: The instructions are original. Here’s my method: I usually peel the eggplant, but don’t salt it. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a baking dish; spread it around. Throw in the eggplant, (you may add some diced bell pepper, as well) onion, garlic, for parsley, I use 3 tablespoons dried parsley and spices. Toss together. Pour on the lemon juice and the liquid from the tomatoes; toss again. Pour the tomatoes evenly over the top. Sprinkle with salt. Slide the pan in the oven; bake, stirring every 15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Sometimes this takes 45 minutes, sometimes it takes 75 minutes. Some additional info….
- Remember, that if you serve this chilled, it should taste SLIGHTLY salty when warm
- You may use some red wine vinegar or balsamic, as part of the acid
- This is also lovely with the julienned (or grated) zest of a lemon or orange added
- Capers can also be added; diced bell pepper, too
- If you like it to be chunky, don’t puree it too much, or at all (I prefer to leave it as is)
- Adjust the seasoning and the acid level to your taste
- Zaalouk keeps very well in the fridge, for at least 1 week and will be much better after 24 hours
- This makes a great bruschetta, with feta cheese
- Garlic scapes, about 1/3 cup, can be added instead of the garlic (I use both!)
- Feel free to add chopped fresh cilantro (or basil) just before serving (I usually do)
Roasted Eggplant Dip (Zaalouk) Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2021. All rights reserved.