I’ve been inspired by my sister and friends who are basking in the glorious tomato harvest.  My sister spent last weekend making a giant batch of fresh home-made pasta sauce so that she and my brother-in-law could enjoy it through the miserable winter months.  And, just yesterday, my friend Stacey posted a stunning picture of her heirloom tomato haul from the farmers market – a variety of colors, textures and sizes – that were going to become tomato bruschetta.

So, if you’re looking for a few great recipes to use up your tomato haul, I highly recommend this one.  Za’alouk is a tomato and roasted eggplant sauce that is redolent with spices and layers of citrus flavor at the finish.  It is delicious lightly warmed as a dip for flatbread, or as a topping for Moroccan Meatballs in pita or flatbread.  I think it would also be outstanding for a twist on a traditional lasagne sauce (look for that this fall!).

This makes a pretty sizeable batch (about 4-5 cups), but it’s a perfect candidate for the freezer – if it lasts that long!

Za’alouk

  • 6 medium-sized eggplants, trimmed and halved lenghtwise
  • a few glugs of garlic-flavored olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 -5 fist-sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • regular olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 healthy tsp harissa paste (I highly recommend Belazu)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • big handful cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by lining it with tin foil, then drizzle a good few glugs of the garlic oil along the foil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the eggplant cut side down onto the seasoned oil and roast for a good 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you get to work on the rest of the sauce.

In a wide pan, add the regular olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, paprika and harissa while the pan is cold.  Put it over medium heat, and stir constantly, keeping an eye on the garlic so that it doesn’t brown and turn bitter.  When the garlic is soft and everything is smelling lovely, add the canned tomatoes, stir to combine, and cook for 15 minutes or so until it’s slightly reduced.  Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, innards of the roasted eggplant and sugar, stir and taste for seasoning.  Use a stick blender to puree the lot of it, then cook for at least another 10 minutes or so until thick.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly – just before serving, add the cilantro and lemon juice.

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