Do you have a go-to side dish? There are one too many times when I'll make the main course but am unsure of what to make for the side. When it's an Asian dinner, the one side I always turn to is pancakes. Leek stuffed pancakes, scallion pancakes, kimchi pancakes, they're all fair game. They're fun to make and I never get sick of them. And so, I decided to take that pancake side and infuse it with another cuisine. It doesn't hurt to have another type of pancake right? Here are my za'atar pancakes served with roasted eggplant dip for a Mediterranean Chinese fusion dish!
Za'atar Pancakes with Roasted Eggplant Dip
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (334 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water (250 ml)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (44 grams)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 head garlic
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- sea salt for sprinkling
- Make the pancake dough. Combine the flour with salt and warm water in a large bowl and mix until a rough dough form. Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7-8 minutes. Drizzle a clean bowl with 1 tablespoon oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
- In a small bowl, combine ⅓ cup flour with 3 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and the za'atar seasoning. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Prepare the eggplant dip. Pierce the eggplant with a fork on all sides. Cut the top of the garlic head off and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Wrap the garlic with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet along with the eggplant and bell pepper. Roast the garlic head and bell pepper for 25-30 minutes or until the garlic is softened and the bell pepper is charred. Roast the eggplant for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until softened, turning the eggplant every 15 minutes.
- Place the bell pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and peel off the skin. Discard the seeds and stem.
- Squeeze out the garlic cloves and discard the skin.
- Cut the eggplant in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Put the eggplant flesh in a food processor along with the roasted bell pepper, garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice. Pulse the mixture until well combined but still slightly chunky. Season the dip with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Lightly dust a clean work counter and roll out each piece into a rectangle about 1/16-inch thick. Spread 2 teaspoon of the za'atar seasoning mix evenly over the dough. With the long side facing you, roll the dough into a log. Grab one end of the log and wrap it into a circle. Place it on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Gently flatten out the dough with the palm of your hand and roll it out into a 7 or 8 inch circle. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat and cook the pancake until browned. Flip the pancake over and cook until browned, gently pressing down on the pancake with a spatula to evenly fry the pancake. Remove from heat and repeat with the remaining pancakes.
- Cut the pancakes into quarters and sprinkle with chopped parsley and sea salt. Serve warm with the roasted eggplant dip.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
When I initially thought of making these za'atar pancakes, I knew I wanted the actual pancake to taste like a Chinese scallion pancake. I love Chinese scallion pancakes primarily because of their texture. They have substance, with a bit of chew and flaky exterior. See my point?
The pancakes are actually quite easy to prepare but they do take some patience. Combine flour with warm water and salt (nope, no yeast required!) and mix until a rough dough forms.
Knead the dough until it's smooth and let it rest for 1 hour. There's no yeast so we're not waiting for the dough to proof. Rather, we're letting the gluten relax. Trust me, the dough will be significantly easier to shape after it's rested.
While the dough rests, make the eggplant dip. You can also make the eggplant dip the day before.
The dip is similar to babaghanoush except for a couple of extra ingredients. Roast the eggplant, bell pepper, and head of garlic until tender and charred. Scoop out the eggplant flesh and blend it together with the remaining ingredients. I like my dip a little chunky but you do you.
Now let's get back to the pancakes. Make the za'atar seasoning mix, combining za'atar seasoning with flour, olive oil, and salt.
Divide the dough into six even portions and roll out each into a thin rectangle about 1/16-inch thick. Spread that za'atar seasoning in an even layer on the dough. Then, with the long side facing you, roll the dough into a log.
Take one end of the rope and coil it around itself to form a shape similar to the one pictured above. Cover the dough to prevent it from drying and let it rest for another 30 minutes.
Roll out each of the portioned dough into a circle about 7 or 8 inches in diameter. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat and pan-fry the pancakes until golden brown. If the pancake starts to puff up, gently press down on it to allow even cooking.
Cut the za'atar pancakes into quarters for easy eating and serve it along with the roasted eggplant dip.
If you're familiar with Chinese pancakes you'll be familiar with these za'atar pancakes. However, unlike the original version, the za'atar seasoning changes it up, adding a bit of zing. Pair it with the eggplant dip for one great Mediterranean side or appetizer!
For more savory snack inspiration check out this Szechuan style naan!