If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished? ~ Rumi~
This Zaatar Roasted Eggplant is one of my favorite meals. Earthy, tangy, Middle Eastern flavors compliment luscious roasted eggplant and with only 15 minutes of prep, the oven does the rest of the work. A simple, healthy weeknight dinner that will satisfy. Serve over rice or whole grains with seasonal veggies like tomatoes, cucumber or radishes, and your choice of lemony tahini sauce, plain yogurt or even the cucumber dill tzatziki from last week.
I love this technique of crosshatching the eggplant and you can use this same technique with other seasonings or marinades – think miso glaze, balsamic glaze, or even just olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Globe eggplant is “crosshatched”. Feel free to use smaller eggplant or Japanese eggplant which will cook faster and perhaps not need such dramatic crosshatching.
In this recipe, I skip the step of salting and draining the liquid- which saves time, but feel free to do if so inclined.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking after 40 minutes and remembering smaller eggplant will take less time.
Cook your choice of grain- rice, bulgar, freekeh, farro, quinoa, or even cous cous.
Prep any veggies you like- tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and whisk together a tahini sauce, tzatziki, (or feel free to use store-bought), or use plain yogurt. Alternatively, you could simply dress the rice and raw veggies with salt, olive oil and lemon for a lighter touch.
When the eggplant is very tender, plate it over the rice with the veggies, optional olives and sauces.
Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Add Aleppo chili flakes if you like.
The eggplant will have a creamy custard-like consistency.
- 1 globe eggplant ( about 1– 1 ⅛ lb)
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon zataar spice mix- or see notes (or use store-bought zaatar!)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 fat garlic clove
Preheat oven to 400F
Slice Eggplant in half, then slice deeply at a diagonal at one-inch intervals -“crosshatching”( see photos above) careful not to cut through skin.
Season each side with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, sprinkling it into the slices if possible.
Mix oil, spices, garlic together in a bowl to make a paste. Brush or spoon the entire contents over the eggplant and place on a sheet pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour rotating halfway through. After an hour, pierce with a fork and if they are very tender and juicy, they are done. Bigger eggplants may take longer.
In the meantime, cook the grain and chop or prep any other veggies.
When the eggplant is done, assemble the plates, topping the warm rice or grain with the roasted eggplant, then surround with fresh veggies and drizzle with tahini sauce, yogurt or tzatziki– or you could simply season the fresh veggies and rice with salt, lemon and olive oil. Add olives or cheese if you wish. Sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley. Enjoy!
Notes- If you don’t have Zaatar– use a substitution of: ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon sumac (and if you don’t have sumac, sub 1 teaspoon lemon zest -or finely chopped preserved lemon), ½ teaspoon dried oregano or thyme , ½ teaspoon sesame seeds and a pinch salt.
If using smaller eggplant, cross-hatching may not be necessary, and roasting time will shorten significantly – check after 30 minutes, and cook until very fork-tender. If using extra large globe eggplant, cooking time may increase.
This brand of store-bought Zaatar is my favorite.
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