There aren’t many recipes on this blog that we’ve been comfortable to post after making it just once, but this is one of ’em. And it’s vegetarian.
What can I say? We’re living in strange times.
Don’t be put off by a long list of ingredients, this is basically just one aubergine with a pre-made (but not by you) spice on top, a basic salad, and a homemade dressing if you can be bothered (tzatziki if you can’t. Both if you’re greedy like us).
Za’atar (or zahtar, zaatar, za’tar, zatar, zatr, zattr, zahatar, zaktar, or satar rhymes with gap yah) is a middle eastern spice blend that we’ve never cooked with before but it’s got a really nice flavour. There’s a great Turkish supermarket just over the road where, as well as picking up an enormous jar of Sauerkraut (go figure), you can get a big packet of za’atar for 99p.
Now we’re properly getting into summer, I’m looking for every opportunity to be the best young professional who talks glibly about wanting-to-cut-down-on-the-amount-of-meat-I’m-eating that I can be. This dish therefore is in deference to BBQ season which is just kicking off in earnest (more on this in the weeks to come) and the stupendous amounts of red meat it automatically becomes acceptable to eat during it. It gives me the right amount of moral highground, genuine nutritional benefit (darling) and blog content so it’s a hard yes from me.
Za'atar Roasted Aubergine & Tahini Salad
1 large aubergine
1 tbsp za’atar spice mix
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic (mixed)
2 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp lemon juice (approx. half a lemon)
3 tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp garlic powder
These are really just suggestions.. use whatever you like
1 bag rocket
12 cherry tomatoes (halved)
4 small radishes (grated)
1 carrot (grated)
12 black olives (halved)
2 small cucumbers (sliced)
1 tbsp flat-leafed parsley (finely chopped)
tzatziki (omit if vegan)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan assisted).
- Slice the aubergine lengthways (keep stem on). With a sharp knife, crosshatch the aubergine (see picture above), making deep scores in each side of the aubergine but without piercing the skin. Put the aubergines in a roasting tin lined with baking parchment.
- Lightly season each half with salt, and try to rub salt into the scores.
- Mix the za’atar, olive oil, and minced garlic in a bowl. Brush the mixture onto the top of each aubergine half. Stick the roasting tin in the oven and check on it after 30 mins – by this time the aubergine should be very soft (poke it with a fork). If not, keep roasting and checking. Turn the temperature down a little and start on the remaining items (you can leave it cooking until you’ve finished the other stuff, provided it doesn’t take you longer than 30 minutes).
- Combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic powder and water in a small ramekin. Stir in the water until the whole dressing is loose, and the tahini is far less clumpy. Lightly season with salt and taste. If it tastes a bit too sharp, add a pinch of sugar.
- Combine all of the salad ingredients.
- Serve the aubergine on top of the salad. Drizzle over the tahini dressing, and sprinkle the parsley. Add tzatziki to the side.