This dish is featured on the cover of Plenty; my photos really don’t do it justice. It couldn’t be simpler to prepare, and it’s exactly as Ottolenghi describes it – rustically elegant. It looks special and exotic on the plate, but the flavors and textures are straight-up comfort food.
The eggplant, bathed in plenty of olive oil and roasted in the oven, is creamy and nutty and far too easy to eat. The buttermilk dressing is reminiscent of Ranch dressing, but made much more interesting with Greek yogurt, olive oil, and a generous sprinkling of za’atar. The experience is completed by the pomegranate seeds, which add a crunch and sour fruity pop to every bite. Having made this dish once, I can confirm that when Ottolenghi says to be generous, be generous. The eggplant acts like a black hole for the other flavors; use more salt, more dressing, more za’atar, and more pomegranate seeds than you think you should. There is more eggplant there than you think, and it benefits from your generosity.
Here are the before and after looks at the eggplant, before it’s dressed up. You simply slice it in half lengthwise, stem and all, cut the crosshatch pattern into them, brush them with lots of olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper, and roast. You whisk up the dressing and liberate the seeds from the pomegranate, and you’re ready to serve. Just like that. Here’s a link to the recipe at Bon Appétit – they have a disclaimer there, saying they haven’t tested the recipe. But I have. You’re Welcome.
I only regret not testing this recipe sooner. I’m sure it’s best with eggplants that are fresh and in season, and with the impending kitchen remodel, I may not get to make it again until next summer. Go get some lovely plump eggplants while you can, and make this in your kitchen. Do it for me.