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July 28, 2013

Kosher salt (Recipe: Moroccan eggplant salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, link, and tweaks to the recipe. The eggplant salad, taught to me by a neighbor who grew up in Morocco and owned our local dry cleaning shop, is perfect for summer, when both eggplant and tomatoes come straight from the garden.

Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Is kosher salt, the darling of chefs and cookbook authors, just another flaky food fashion?

Is it saltier than table salt, better for health or baking or taste?

Is all kosher salt the same?

Is it even kosher?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Kosher salt -- which really should be called koshering salt -- is a coarse-grained salt, named for its use in the production of kosher meats. (It helps to draw blood out of meat, much like drawing water out of eggplant or zucchini.) Unlike table salt, which since the 1920s has had iodine and starch added, kosher salt (specifically Diamond Crystal brand, which is the one I keep in my pantry) is additive-free.

Koshersalt

It also differs from table salt in another important way. Table salt is granular, while kosher salt (again, I'm talking about Diamond Crystal brand) is shaped like a tiny, delicate, four-sided hollow pyramid; food scientist Shirley O. Corriher describes this as the difference between an ice cube and a snowflake. About 90 percent of granular salt dropped onto an inclined surface bounces off, she explains, while 95 percent of the "snowflake", or kosher salt, will stick to the surface. The kosher salt also dissolves in half the time that granular dissolves.

Morton's Kosher Salt, the other major brand available in supermarkets, is actually granular salt that has been pressed flat into snowflakes; in other words, it's a completely different type of salt than Diamond Crystal, though both are labeled "kosher salt." Please stick with Diamond Crystal; you can find it at your supermarket for approximately $2.00 for a three-pound box. Transfer the salt to a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid; it will keep forever.

Kosher salt (which is kosher, as is nearly all salt) is a great all-purpose seasoning. I use it for all types of cooking and some baking, and I save my precious sea salt for finishing dishes.

Moroccan eggplant salad.

Moroccan eggplant salad

From the pantry, you'll need: kosher salt, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon, fresh black pepper.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 eggplants (unpeeled), ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Kosher salt
Olive oil for frying
6 whole scallions, minced
1 tomato, minced
2 huge garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup minced fresh herbs -- a mix of parsley and cilantro
Juice of 1-1/2 lemons
1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Place eggplant slices in a colander, and toss with a generous amount (a couple of teaspoons) of kosher salt. Set the colander over a bowl or plate, and let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse the eggplant and dry well.

In a frying pan filmed with olive oil, saute the eggplant over medium heat until cooked through but not crispy brown, approximately 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Dice eggplant and place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly (with your hands -- the eggplant should break down), and set aside to marinate for several hours at room temperature.

Can be made up to 1 day ahead.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Roasted eggplant spread with garlic, pepper and onions
Cold aubergine salad
Caponata
"Poor little eggplants"
Ratatouille soup

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Grilled eggplant, grape tomato, and feta salad with amazing basil, parsley, and caper sauce, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled stuffed eggplant, from Andrea Meyers
Honey garlic grilled eggplant, from Beyond Salmon
Sichuan eggplant, from Simply Recipes
Pickled fairy tale eggplant, from Food in Jars

Need more creative ideas for using tomatoes all year round? Get 25 Tomatoes, my e-book packed with fantastic recipes, full-color photos and a fun video tutorial. With the FREE Kindle Reading app, delicious tomato recipes will always be just one click away on any computer, tablet or smart phone. Click here to learn more.

Moroccan eggplant salad with tomatoes.

Comments

Sounds delicious! Can you give approximate weight of eggplant, liq volume of lemon juice?

Susan, the beauty of this recipe is that exact proportions aren't necessary. I use medium eggplants, all different varieties, and all sizes of lemon. It always seems to work out. The recipe was given to me by a woman who, very much like my grandmother, seldom measured anything.

Lydia,
I have only seen Diamond Crystal at Penzey's, not in my grocery store, but I've seen it in Penzey's stores in Virginia and several in Ohio.
I'm starting to get eggplant in the farm share, so this is a very timely recipe for me.
Thanks!

Kirsten, you can use any kosher salt, though obviously I have a strong preference. If you ever get them side by side, you'll see the difference.

Lydia, this is right up my alley. Something I could keep in my fridge and just take a spoon of every time I opened it.

Your photos are very outstanding.Love it.

Is Maldon salt (here in Europe) similar to your Diamond kosher salt?
...or can this be used in this recipe?...We also have "gros sel" here in France..which is big, coarse salt...is this preferable?

Thank you for this wonderful offering!

Jeanette, as with many salads like this, the longer it sits, the better it is!

Donna, I think Maldon salt is a bit more coarse than kosher salt, but preferable to the gros sel you're talking about.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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