Zaalouk is a flavor-packed cooked Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and warm spices. This easy zaalouk recipe makes a great mezze or appetizer, served warm or cold with a side of pita or your favorite bread.
Served hot or cold, this eggplant salad can be pureed to a very smooth consistency or served like a chunky dip with a side of khobz, a thicker flatbread that is Morocco's version of pita bread.
The delicious, bold flavors in this Moroccan eggplant salad recipe will have you coming back for more. And you'll find many ways to use it. (I've been using it in pita sandwiches with my Moroccan meatballs and it's a crowd favorite!)
Table of Contents
Ingredients You Need for Zaalouk
This easy eggplant salad is made with a few simple ingredients. Here are the ingredients and notes:
- Globe eggplant: Select a globe eggplant with tighter skin (no blemishes or dents). Avoid very large eggplant, they are filled with seeds and can be more on the bitter side.
- Extra virgin olive oil: You'll use the olive oil for sautéing and also for finishing. If you want to lend a little rich and slightly peppery flavor, try our Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO in this recipe.
- Fresh garlic: minced.
- Spices including cumin, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes: If you are looking for a deep smoky flavor, I highly recommend using smoked paprika.
- Lemon juice: Do not skip the citrus, this will brighten the dip and really enhance the flavor in a subtle way.
- Fresh herbs including cilantro and parsley: For those who don't like cilantro, use a little more parsley instead.
How to Make Zaalouk
To make zaalouk on the stovetop, all you need is a large pan with a lid (I prefer a nonstick pan). Once you peel and cube your eggplant, you have the option to salt it for a few minutes (I think this helps the texture and flavor, but you can skip it if you don't have time).
- From there, cook the eggplant in the pan with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, garlic, and a few warm spices including cumin and paprika (like I said earlier, I use smoked paprika here to deepen the flavor a bit).
- Let the tomatoes and eggplant simmer in the pan until they are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes or so. Stir in juice of one lemon (this really balances the flavor and brightens the dip in a subtle way), then use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to mash the mixture to the consistency you prefer. (I like my zaalouk just a tad chunky, but others like fully mashed to a pureed consistency, almost.)
- Just before you serve the zaalouk, stir in fresh cilantro, parsley, and add a drizzle more of extra virgin olive oil.
Other Ways to Cook Eggplant for This Recipe
The simplest way to make Moroccan zaalouk is to cook the eggplant in the pan with the tomatoes and other ingredients. However, you can bake or even smoke the eggplant, especially if you love a deeper smoky flavor. Here are the two additional options for preparing your eggplant for this Moroccan eggplant salad recipe:
- To smoke the eggplant: Leave the eggplant whole and pierce it with a sharp knife all over. From there, cook the eggplant over open fire. I use the flame of my gas range, but you can grill it over high heat. Using a pair of tongs, rotate the eggplant occasionally, until it is very tender and charred on all sides.
- To bake the eggplant: You can peel and cube the eggplant as mentioned in the recipe, then toss the eggplant pieces with a little olive oil. Spread the eggplant cubes on a large sheet pan and bake in a 400°F heated-oven until the eggplant cubes are fully cooked and tender; about 20 minutes. Take a look occasionally and toss the eggplant cubes so they cook evenly on all sides.
If you choose to prepare your eggplant using either of the baking or smoking methods above, you'll need to cook the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a large nonstick sauté pan.
When your eggplant is ready, you'll combine it with the tomato mixture in the pan and continue cooking until you have a coherent zaalouk eggplant and tomato mixture. You'll mash and serve the zaalouk from there according to the recipe.
Leftovers and Storage
Zaalouk is even better the next day, the flavors are more intense and more fully developed. This zaalouk recipe will keep well in the fridge for about 4 days or so. Make sure you store it in a glass container with a tight lid. You can serve it cold, straight from the fridge.
More eggplant recipes to try
Try our Smoked Paprika!
Just the spice you need to add some deep smoky flavor and subtle heat to your zaalouk.
Zaalouk (Moroccan Eggplant Salad)
- 1 medium globe eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 large tomatoes, diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, more for garnish
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 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.
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