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Roasted Aubergines with Za’atar

Continuing with our celebration of the aubergine, this week we bring you these aromatically spiced roasted aubergines with za'atar. Eat them as part of a mezze or serve as a starter with labna or a tahini dip, pomegranate seeds and salad leaves. 

Roasted Aubergines with Za'Atar

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Dietary: Vegan

Pictures by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp za’atar spice blend (see recipe, below) zest of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 8 baby aubergines or 1 medium aubergine pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes, to garnish 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 
  • Mix together the oil, za’atar and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  • Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score a crisscross pattern into the flesh, avoiding cutting through the skin. Lay them skin-side down on a baking tray and cover with the oil mixture, rubbing it all over the aubergines with your hands.
  • Roast the aubergines for 20 minutes until they are soft and brown on top. If the aubergines are larger, you will need to cover them in foil and cook for an extra 20 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper flakes to serve. 

Za'atar Spice Blend

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp sumac 

Method

  • Toast the cumin and coriander seeds separately (as the cumin burns quickly) by placing them in a dry frying pan and cooking until they start to smell fragrant. 
  • Tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind until smooth.
  • Dry-fry the sesame seeds for a minute to give them a little colour, then mix with the ground cumin and coriander, thyme, oregano and sumac. Store in an airtight jar. 

Tips

  • Za’atar is a spice mix which is prepared using herbs, spices and sesame seeds to which sumac is often added. Households throughout the Middle East have their own homemade spice mixtures.
  • A Turkish dried and flaked chilli pepper, Aleppo has a mild heat similar to a Mexican ancho chilli, with a sweet, slightly smoky tomato-like flavour. Use instead of paprika and black pepper, as it will add colour and a little kick of spicy heat. 
  • Sprinkle za'atar over lavash or pitta bread before baking; eat it with by bread by dipping the bread in olive oil, then za'atar and use as a seasoning to sprinkle on roasted vegetables or spice up hummus, soups or rice dishes.
  • Watch out next Monday for Rachel's recipes for Aubergine Dip and for Zaalouk, a Moroccan aubergine salad, which will be rounding off our series of aubergine recipes. Do go and grab these purple beauties which are still gloriously in season until about mid October - you can buy them all year round but they are at their absolute best right now so make the most of them!  

Have you had a look at the cookery courses we have lined up for autumn and into winter, all making the most of seasonal fruits and vegetables? We do hope you'll join us soon!

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