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.
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
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk
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.
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.
Sprinkle with salt
and lemon thyme leaves.
Put in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the eggplants are in the oven, seed the pomegranate. We had several from the tree.
To make the sauce, add the yogurt to the food processor
along with the garlic
Process until the garlic is minced and while running add the olive oil.
Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.
To serve, place an eggplant half on a plate
generously spoon buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves
and pomegranate seeds
Garnish with lemon thyme, a drizzle of olive oil, serve & enjoy.
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.
- 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.