Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce
Staff Writer
Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Jonathan Lovekin

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

I can’t think of a more rustically elegant (is that a contradiction in terms?) starter. Serve with some robust white bread or pita and you'll be in food heaven. In the recipe you’ll find Sami Tamimi’s technique for getting the seeds out of the pomegranate, which I am afraid is now a very well-known secret.

Ingredients

For the eggplant:

  • 2 large and long eggplants
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar

For the buttermilk:

  • 9 tablespoons buttermilk
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

For the eggplant:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don’t eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make 3 or 4 parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil — keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down 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 a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

For the buttermilk:

Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning and then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Eggplant Shopping Tip

Look for vegetables that are firm and bright in color – avoid those that are wilted or have wrinkled skins, which are signs of age.

Eggplant Cooking Tip

Vegetables should typically be cooked as quickly as possible, as they can become bland and mushy, and lose vitamins and minerals.