Eggplant with Buttermilk sauce

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Eggplant anyone???? Not only does this make a beautiful presentation but it’s tasty, tasty, tasty.

This recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Baby Lady bought me this cookbook a while back and I had yet to try anything in it. For those of you unfamiliar with Yotam Ottolenghi, he is an Israeli-born chef, cookbook author and food writer (he writes a weekly column for The Guardian) and restauranteur with his eponymous restaurant Ottolenghi in London (Islington) and NOPI (Soho), along with several gourmet delis. Although he is a lover of meat, he is considered the champion of vegetables with a cooking style that is distinctly Middle Eastern with a western twist. Plenty is his vegetarian cookbook. Baby Lady bought me Plenty because we like veggies, a lot. We also like Middle Eastern cuisine so it seemed like a perfect fit. It’s quite a cookbook with great photos and easy to follow recipes. This dish is the cover photo for Plenty. Once you see the cover you have to find  the recipe because it looks sooo good. In fact, it looked so good I had to try it. It took a while but we finally did and it’s absolutely delicious. If you like eggplant, this is a dish you definitely need to try. He uses 2 whole aubergine eggplants in his recipe and serves it as an appetizer. Baby Lady and I cut the recipe in half and had it as a light Saturday brunch. The eggplant is full of flavor and so soft and creamy from the roasting process. The buttermilk sauce adds a touch of tang while the pomegranates add a burst of flavor and textural crunch. It’s perfectly balanced. This is what we did.

Ingredients

For the Eggplant

  • 1 large 1-1/2 lb Aubergine eggplants
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate (from Baby Lady’s tree :) )
  • 1 tsp za’atar*

For the Sauce

  • 5 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 pinch salt
© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Instruction

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil—keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Sprinkle with salt

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© 2013 REMCooks.com

pepper

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and lemon thyme leaves.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Put in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

While the eggplants are in the oven, seed the pomegranate. We had several from the tree. :)

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

To make the sauce, add the yogurt to the food processor

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

along with the garlic

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

salt

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and buttermilk

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Process until the garlic is minced and while running add the olive oil.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, place an eggplant half on a plate

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

generously spoon buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Sprinkle za’atar

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and pomegranate seeds

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Garnish with lemon thyme, a drizzle of olive oil, serve & enjoy.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

NOTES: * Za’atar is a spice blend in the Middle East that consists of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac. Oftentimes, salt is added, as well. It is a spice blend that goes back to the 13th century, at least. Much like other spice blends, what herbs are used and how all those ingredients are proportioned vary from culture to culture, region to region and family to family. In much of the Middle East, za’atar recipes are closely guarded secrets. In Jordan, the za’atar has a red appearance because it’s heavy on the sumac. Lebanese za’atar may have dried orange zest. Israeli za’atar often includes dried dill. I generally use a very basic za’atar recipe.

For Za’atar

  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  •  tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground sumac

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spices into a fine powder Store in a sealed a jar. It will keep frozen for several months.

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27 thoughts on “Eggplant with Buttermilk sauce

  1. Eggplant and pomegranate seeds, such an interesting combination! I doubt my picky family would even attempt to try this if I made. However, I have a question. Since you have a pomegranate tree, you must have seeded quite a few of them. My first attempt at seeding one resulted in a pink mess splattered all over the counter tops and even the upper counter doors! Do you have a mess-free trick?

    • Hi, Kathryn. Sorry your family won’t try this dish. It is unbelievably tasty. The eggplant is very soft and creamy from the roasting process. The olive oil is absorbed into the flesh and adds a nice flavor. The buttermilk sauce is cool, refreshing with just a touch of tartness. It’s really nice and I doubt your family would know it’s eggplant if it weren’t for being in the shell.
      As for pomegranate seeds, we pull off the remnant of the flower end and score the outer peel all the way around. This allows you to pull apart the pomegranate in half. Then, we separate the arils from the pith. We have had a lot of practice so it’s not too messy but if you don’t want splatter, put the pomegranate in a bowl of water when you separate the arils. The arils will sink and the pith floats.

  2. OK, am somewhat frustrated! Bought ‘Jerusalem’ about two months ago and am ‘working’ steadily thru’ that one! [Not one failure so far!]. That does not mean I have ‘Plenty’ ~ and I am supposedly on a very necessary cookbook buying moratorium!! Hmm!! LOVE eggplant and this looks great . . . have said eggplant just bought and all bar the very necessary pomegranate! One brain has to be put in gear . . . thank you and shall advise of progress :D !!

    • Hi, Eha. Sorry to hear about the cookbook moratorium. That must be very difficult. I have no idea what you could substitute for the pomegranate so I’ll look forward to hearing about what you do.

  3. This does indeed look great, Richard. Thanks for explaining who Ottolenghi is — when he was mentioned before on other blogs he was mentioned as someone everyone knows (and I was too lazy to google him).

    • Thanks, Francesca; however, the recipe is not mine in any way, shape or form. This is direct from the cookbook Plenty without any alteration. I generally don’t enter food contests but I would never enter a food contest on someone else’s recipe.

  4. I, too, am an eggplant lover and this dish sounds wonderful, Richard. I’ve only tried a couple of Ottolenghi’s recipes, so far, and have enjoyed each one. With that buttermilk/yogurt sauce and its pomegranate seeds, I’m sure to like this one, too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, John. This was the first recipe I have tried by Ottolenghi. I will definitely be trying more of them. This was so delightful in ease of preparation, presentation and taste.

  5. I do love that book! It’s certainly an incredible group of recipes from an incredible chef too! As for eggplant, I had a little too many of them recently but there’s no doubt these delicious veg adapt so well for many types of meals :)

  6. Pingback: Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce | REMCooks

  7. as it turns out this is the first homework recipe on Harvard’s Science and Cooking online course! They list the oven temp as 200 C, which corresponds to 390F, Epicurious lists it as 200 F (which sounds wrong as it would take a lot longer to cook), and you’re using 350 F…is your temperature from the cookbook? I don’t cook eggplant (bad childhood memories :-)), and I only eat it occasionally, so I want to make sure I cook it properly since I am going to give it a second chance to make it into my kitchen :-)

    • Yep. It’s direct from Plenty. I made no modifications at all. It was soft, creamy & savory with a little bite from the buttermilk sauce and sweet tanginess from the pomegranates. I would eat this again and again and again, etc. and would have no reservation about serving to guests, except 2 friends of mine who simply do not eat cooked veggies. One of them loved my baba ghannouj until I told her it was cooked eggplant. She stopped eating it and won’t eat it again. :o

  8. Pingback: Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

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