It’s hard to go wrong with roasted eggplant, so you can only imagine how good it is when it goes oh-so right. That’s exactly what happens when you intro to the mix earthy and herbaceous za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend of dried herbs, sumac and sesame seeds. By making a crosshatch with a paring knife before marinating, you’re able to get all those delicious flavors permeating through the eggplant. Then, all you’ve got to do is sear them in a pan until golden and finish them in the oven until tender.
As for the toppings, I’m a sucker for anything drowning in tahini. This rich and creamy sesame paste is my go-to ingredient to give just about any dish a little Middle Eastern flair. And while it’s great on its own, it’s even better when zhuzhed up with garlic and lemon. You’ll probably think something went wrong when you whisk in the lemon juice and the tahini seizes up, but fear not! A little boiling water helps return this sauce to its creamy, luscious consistency.
Throw on some some pomegranate arils and mint leaves, then get ready to use all the eggplant emojis for this picture perfect recipe!
- 2 pounds baby eggplant, halved and scored
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons za'atar
- 1 lemon, zested (1 teaspoon) and juiced (2 tablespoons)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated
- Pomegranate arils, for garnish
- Mint, for garnish
- Flaked sea salt, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant with ¼ cup olive oil, the za’atar, lemon zest and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together tahini with water, lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear ½ of the eggplant, cut side down, until golden, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan, cut-side up. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant.
Place sheet pan in oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with tahini sauce. Garnish with pomegranate arils, mint leaves and flaky sea salt, then serve.