Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce


2 eggplants
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 /2 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves*
Sea salt and black pepper
1 pomegranate
1 tsp za'atar**

Sauce ingredients:

9 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup greek yogurt or plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
1 small garlic clove crushed
pinch of salt

* I couldn't find lemon thyme so I used regular thyme and fresh lemon juice, which I just eyeballed.

** I couldn't find za'atar so I sprinkled oregano, basil, thyme, and sesame seeds on top.


Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the eggplants in half length ways, cutting straight through the green stalk. (Note: the stalk is for look, not for eating!). Use a small knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, but don't cut all the way through the skin. Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, onto a baking sheet lined with foil (or silpat). Brush them with grapeseed oil, continuing to brush until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh Sprinkle with thyme, lemon juice (if you couldn't find lemon thyme), salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 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 rolling pin to gently knock the pomegranate skin. Continue beating, with increasing force if necessary, until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all the seeds are out of the skin and in the bowl, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin that came off in the process. Set aside.

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, adjusting to your preference. Keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves (without covering the stalks). Sprinkle za'ater (or oregano, basil, thyme, and sesame seeds) and pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with thyme. Drizzle with olive oil.