eggplant with pomegranates

Doing anything other than cutting straight to the photo is burying the lede. Yes, those are those eggplants from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. And yes, I made something that looks just like a cookbook cover photo.

yummmmmm

Plenty is a book I never thought I’d actually buy — too fancy, too fussy, and the only Ottolenghi recipe I’ve tried before underwhelmed me. But I checked it out of the library this week, grabbed the Post-It notes and proceeded to bookmark every other page. With fresh produce finally flowing into the farmer’s markets, this is the ideal time to start to cook these beautiful vegetable recipes.

This eggplant dish came straight off the cover. It was delicious and couldn’t be easier. I’m agnostic on eggplant — it’s a very “take it or leave it” food for me. But I love pomegranate seeds, and the photo was too beautiful to resist. It turned out like a sort of deconstructed baba ghanoush, topped with a tangy buttermilk sauce and the bright bursts of pomegranate seeds.

I scooped it out of the peel with some whole wheat flatbread. A perfect summery dinner for the weird, mid-April summer we’ve had in DC.

(By the way, this is Week 16! Almost a third of the way through the year — with 36 more recipes to go. Impressed that I haven’t fallen off the wagon just yet, and hoping my inspiration holds up.)

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce, Pomegranate Seeds and Za’atar

For the eggplant:

1 eggplant, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
6 sprigs thyme
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, or 1/2 whole pomegranate, seeds removed
2 teaspoons za’atar spice mix
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced or crushed
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the eggplant in half and score it with a sharp knife, making parallel incisions about half an inch apart, then turning 45 degrees and scoring again. (The eggplant should have a diamond or argyle pattern on it.) Brush the olive oil across the cut face, or just rub in until fully absorbed. Drizzle on the lemon juice and sprinkle on thyme, salt and pepper.

Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, or until brown, soft and fragrant. Remove from oven and let drain in a colander, face down, until excess moisture is removed.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, yogurt, olive oil and garlic. Whisk until all ingredients are combined.

Pour the sauce over the eggplant and top generously with pomegranate seeds and za’atar.

Serve with flatbread or pita (I use this recipe for Indian chapatis, because it’s easy and gives great results) for scooping.

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