I think eggplant is a severely underrated vegetable in the United States. When I travel abroad, I see it everywhere. But back at home, it doesn't receive the same kind of love. I guess I can't blame people though because it wasn't until recently when I myself started to really appreciate the vegetable. When roasted or braised, eggplant breaks down and becomes incredibly tender. Give it some life with spices and a creamy sauce and you transform eggplant into something entirely different. Hopefully, you'll agree with me when you try this za'atar roasted eggplant with fresh tomato salsa, feta yogurt sauce, toasted walnuts, and fresh parsley.
Za'atar Roasted Eggplant
Za'atar roasted eggplant
- 1 lb eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- 1 tablespoon za'atar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Feta yogurt sauce
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 garlic clove grated
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts
- Maldon salt for finishing
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use sharp knife to score eggplant in a crisscross pattern, making sure not to cut through the skin. Drizzle olive oil on flesh. Combine garlic with za'atar, salt, and pepper and spread mixture on cut sides. Place eggplant on middle rack in the oven and roast for 1 hour or until tender.
- Meanwhile, make feta yogurt sauce. Puree yogurt with feta and lemon juice until well combined. Stir in dill, lemon zest, and garlic. Season sauce with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Grate tomatoes using coarse grater. Discard tomato skins. Combine grated tomatoes with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread feta yogurt sauce on serving platter and place roasted eggplant on top. Spoon tomato salsa on top and sprinkle chopped parsley and walnuts. Finish with Maldon salt and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I think the reason why a lot of people don't like eggplant is because of the texture. If you don't cook eggplant long enough, it's very spongey. Spongey eggplant? No thank you. But if you take the time and let it roast or braise, it softens up and changes completely. It's quite delicious.
Before we can cook the eggplant, we have to prepare it. Cut a large eggplant in half lengthwise. Then, use a sharp knife and score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, making sure not to cut through the skin.
Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant flesh and season it with garlic, za'atar, salt, and pepper. I used a premade za'atar spice mix but you can easily make your own. Just combine equal parts dried thyme, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, and sumac and there you have it!
Pop the eggplant into the oven and roast it for 1 hour or until a fork can easily pierce the flesh.
While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Blend or pulse together yogurt with feta and lemon juice until smooth. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients including fresh dill, lemon zest, and garlic. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and set it aside. You can prepare the sauce up to a day before.
Now, on to the fresh tomato salsa. I based this salsa on one that I had in Greece that was served with fried fish. It's such a simple condiment, just grated tomato, and olive oil, but it adds so much brightness to the za'atar roasted eggplant.
Since the tomato salsa relies heavily on sweet fresh tomatoes, I highly recommend making this dish during the summer. However, I won't blame you if you use off-peak tomatoes too! The tomato flavor may not as be pronounced but you'll still get that fresh quality.
Spread the feta yogurt sauce on a serving plate and place the hot eggplant on top. Spoon the fresh tomato salsa on the za'atar roasted eggplant and garnish with toasted walnuts, fresh parsley, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.
If you thought eggplant was boring before, you need to try this za'atar roasted eggplant! There's a lot going on from the creamy sauce to the savory tender vegetable to bright acidic salsa to the toasted nuts, but they all work so well together. A tasty side dish or even entree!
For more eggplant inspiration check out this braised eggplant toast with garlic bean spread!