Served warm or cold, this easy zaalouk recipe makes an amazing appetizer. It's full of flavor and make-ahead friendly (it tastes even better the next day). Add a side of pita or your favorite bread, and you are good to go!
Salt the eggplant: Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and toss with a good pinch of kosher salt. Set aside for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. When ready to cook, wipe the eggplant dry, removing excess salt.
Saute the vegetables: In a large non-stick pan (with a lid), heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil), add the eggplant cubes, tomatoes, and minced garlic. Season with kosher salt, cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Toss around for about 5 minutes or so, then add in the cilantro, parsley and about ⅓ cup of water.
Simmer: Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down. Cover the pan with the lid and allow the eggplant and tomatoes to simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes or so. Make sure to occasionally check and stir so nothing sticks to the pan, adding a little bit more water if needed.
Mash the eggplant and tomatoes: Once the eggplant and the tomatoes are very tender, stir in the lemon juice, and using a potato masher or the back of a fork to gently mash to your desired consistency (some people like it very smooth, I keep it a little bit chunky). Remove from heat.
Serve: Transfer the zaalouk to a serving bowl. At this point, you can serve it warm or you can allow it to come to room temperature. You can also refrigerate it to serve later. When you are ready to serve, top the zaalouk with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some fresh cilantro, and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with pita bread or your favorite crusty bread.
Serving suggestions: Zaalouk can be served hot or cold with pita bread or your favorite rustic bread.
Variations: You can bake the eggplant cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes before adding it to the pan with the tomatoes and other ingredients. You can also roast the eggplant whole over an open flame until fully blackened and tender (be sure to first cut a few slits in the eggplant like I do for baba ganoush). If you choose to roast the eggplant, you'll need to allow it to cool so that you can peel and mash it in with the tomatoes. (See the full post for more details)
Leftovers & Storage: If stored properly, this cooked eggplant salad will keep well in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days. Allow the eggplant mixture to cool completely before you transfer to a glass container or mason jar with a tight lid. Adding a drizzle of olive oil to cover the top will help seal it.