For those of you who are scared of eggplant, I promise this recipe is worth trying. I, too, was an eggplant skeptic. I remember one time when I was little someone brought us a dish for dinner and my sisters and I all loved it. Muth told us later it was eggplant and we immediately decided we didn't like it after all. I mean who likes eggplant? The name itself just sounds gross. It conjures up images of:
How can that produce this:
Furthermore, how can an oval purple vegetable be good? All to say, I, too, was a skeptic. So were my sisters. The night I made this recipe, one of my sisters came over to eat with us the night I served this and she gobbled it. So did the hubs. And so did I. This recipe exorcised or eggplant demons. I think it will yours, too.
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 /2 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves*
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp za'atar**
9 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup greek yogurt or plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
1 small garlic clove crushed
pinch of salt
* I couldn't find lemon thyme so I used regular thyme and fresh lemon juice, which I just eyeballed.
** I couldn't find za'atar so I sprinkled oregano, basil, thyme, and sesame seeds on top.
Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the eggplants in half length ways, cutting straight through the green stalk. (Note: the stalk is for look, not for eating!). Use a small knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, but don't cut all the way through the skin. Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond shaped pattern.
Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, onto a baking sheet lined with foil (or silpat). Brush them with grapeseed oil, continuing to brush until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh Sprinkle with thyme, lemon juice (if you couldn't find lemon thyme), salt and pepper.
Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate in half horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or rolling pin to gently knock the pomegranate skin. Continue beating, with increasing force if necessary, until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all the seeds are out of the skin and in the bowl, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin that came off in the process. Set aside.
To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, adjusting to your preference. Keep cold until needed.
To serve, spoon buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves (without covering the stalks). Sprinkle za'ater (or oregano, basil, thyme, and sesame seeds) and pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with thyme. Drizzle with olive oil.
(Recipe slightly adapted from "Plenty" and can be found here)