Make it. Eat it. Love it.
I sat at my mothers kitchen table awaiting her arrival home from work, anxious, excited, giddy, ready to surprise her with my presence. I hadn’t been back to the states or seen my family since my move to Israel a year and a half ago and this reunion was long overdue. When she walked in the house and saw my husband and I sitting there with grins from ear to ear her first reaction was that she must be hallucinating. After glancing at my brother to get some reinforcement that what she was seeing was actually true, she broke down with excitement and my three week trip to New York started.
You would think that being gone for so long I would be bearing gifts from the holy land in great abundance, dead sea products, mezuzahs, evil eyes, stars of david, some earth from Jerusalem. But no, I brought with me my own idea of gifts. I unpacked a large bag filled with goods I couldn’t wait to share. Spices, chocolate, olive oil, silan, balsamic fig oil, Israeli wine, tahini, couscous mixes, pomegranates from my tree (ack don’t tell customs) even an Israeli cookbook. My gift was going to be a huge Middle Eastern feast for my family and friends.
Among the delicious foods I made to showcase the flavors of my new home were, beet kubbeh, potato bourekas, Moroccan carrots, fattoush salad, hummus, Moroccan chicken, pita, fresh lahoh, roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce (the recipe I am going to share with you in this post) tahini cookies and semolina cake.
I found this recipe in Bon Appetite magazine and adapted it into what has turned out to be one of my favorite eggplant dishes. With Middle Eastern flavors like sumac and za’atar and sprinkled with ruby red pomegranate seeds, it captures the taste of the Middle East perfectly.
Serve this as a side dish or a vegetarian main for those non carnivorous eaters at the table. And, for those looking for a special or unique dish for the Christmas table, you cannot go wrong with deep purple color of the eggplant topped with a white yogurt sauce sprinkled with green za’atar and red pomegranate seeds.
Ingredients (adapted from Bon Appetit)
2 long eggplants
1⁄2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons za’atar
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
For yogurt sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons sumac
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a large baking sheet.
Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and using a sharp knife make a diamond shaped pattern in the eggplants flesh, taking care not to cut through the skin.
Place the eggplant halves on prepared baking sheet and brush with olive oil and lemon juice.
Sprinkle eggplant with za’atar and salt and pepper.
Roast eggplant for 45-50 minutes or until flesh is soft and browned.
Remove eggplant from oven and set aside to cool completely.
While eggplant is cooling, make the sauce.
In a bowl combine yogurt, buttermilk, garlic, sumac and salt and pepper, set aside.
Once eggplant is cooled top each half with yogurt sauce and sprinkle with sumac and za’tar.
Drizzle eggplant with olive oil and top with pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate until served.