Every time I glance over at my cookbook shelf and see Ottolenghi’s Plenty, I crave roasted eggplant.
Okay, so I haven’t actually MADE his cover recipe, but it looks freaking delicious!
Ottolenghi’s version is drizzled with a creamy buttermilk sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate, za’atar, and lemon thyme. I can imagine the creamy roasted eggplant, tangy sauce, and pops of sweet-tart pomegranate.
Soooooo, when I saw these beautiful little baby eggplants at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, I knew it was time for some roasted eggplant in my life.
Confession: I like baby eggplants more than the large ones!
They cook more quickly, are easy to eat in two quick bites, and can be scaled up or down to serve the right amount of guests.
In my version of roasted eggplant, I still went with a Middle Eastern spin, but VEGAN. Instead of a creamy buttermilk sauce, I whipped up a drizzle of tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. It still has the tangy creamy vibe of buttermilk, but without any dairy! (Perfect for those with dairy sensitivities).
A sprinkle of chili powder gives the eggplant a little smoky spice, and the za’atar (a blend of thyme, sesame, and sumac) rounds it out with a tangy herbaceous kick. Top with some fresh cilantro and paprika and sesame seeds for color, and you’ve got a kick-ass meal worthy of serving at a dinner party or on a simple weeknight at home.
Try it for you next Meatless Monday- you won’t miss the meat at all 😉
Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Za’atar
- 10 baby eggplants, stems cut off & eggplants halved lengthwise
- Drizzle of olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- Kosher salt & ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend, for garnish (you can buy it or make it at home)
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro, for garnish
- Ground paprika, for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle liberally with olive or grapeseed oil and use your hands to rub the oil all over each eggplant half. Sprinkle the cut sides of the eggplants with the chili powder, and season well with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the eggplant is roasting, place the minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk together to form a smooth sauce.
Place 5 eggplant halves on each plate, drizzle with tahini sauce, sprinkle with za’atar, sesame seeds, cilantro, and paprika, and serve. Goes great with wild rice blend and sautéed swiss chard.
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