Eggplant is a huge favorite in our Sephardi Cooking. We prepare eggplant in dozens of ways, even for dessert! This dish is all roasted, so it is pretty streamlined, and pretty lean. Anything not to have to fry eggplant: Of course you have noticed: Eggplant guzzles oil like crazy, so roasting it results in great savings of oil, not to mention saving the frying step.
Add this eggplant salad to your eggplant repertoire!
It is sort of the love child of ratatouille and caponata, and features very much the same flavor lineup. The variation I am making here is tomato-less. I wanted the dish to capture the distinctness of the eggplant, without any help from the tomatoes, so I am giving them a day off: Ciao, darlings, see you tomorrow!
This Eggplant Salad is Overlaid with Moroccan Flavors
Preserved lemons, Moroccan oil-cured olives, Moroccan herbs and spices. The end result is much like Zaalouk, sans tomatoes.
It is so versatile!
Enjoy it in a dozen of ways; to name just a few:
- As a side dish
- As topping on grilled fish, chicken or tofu
- As a spread on good sliced bread
- In pasta: toss it in cooked pasta and call it dinner
- As a main vegetarian course: With added cooked chick peas, diced goat cheese etc
The preserved lemons do make a big difference
Their tang and fragrance are incomparable. Please don’t skip them unless it is Passover and you couldn’t make them in advance. I have provided a super simple recipe, just make it ahead of time so you are sure to always have it on hand, for this and many other wonderful recipes that call for them
I am using ready-roasted peppers in this dish
More often than not, fresh peppers are too expensive to be time- or cost-effective for roasting, whereas many brands carry very decent bottled roasted peppers, minimally processed and very affordable.
- 3 medium eggplant, peeled lengthwise (1 strip peeled, 1 strip not peeled: you will get a black and white stripe pattern), cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 3 roasted red peppers, bottled OK, diced small
- 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured or other good quality olives, chopped small
- 1/2 preserved lemon, pulp discarded, peel thoroughly rinsed (Passover: 2 tablespoons lemon zest)
- 5-6 sprigs cilantro
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more if you like it hot
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons paprika
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil, spray heavily with vegetable spray, arrange the eggplant dice in one layer and spray again. Bake about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft and dark. Transfer to a bowl. Add the roasted peppers and the olives.
In a food processor, finely grind (not allowing to get mushy) the lemon, cilantro and garlic. Add the oil, cumin, red pepper flakes and paprika and pulse just to combine. Add the mixture to the eggplant mixture and combine thoroughly.
Serve the eggplant salad warm, chilled or at room temperature. Store refrigerator in glass jars.
Makes about 8 cups.