I LOVE making a vegetarian dish the star of a meal because they’re cheap, healthy, easy to cook, and they accommodate (almost) everyone’s dietary restrictions these days- Mind you, if someone’s latest diet trend prevents them from eating vegetables…well…I just…*sigh*…let’s not go there. I’ve been really into eggplants ever since my sister Katie showed me how easy and versatile they are! One way to prepare them is to roast them whole in the oven: this method creates steam inside the eggplant to cook it, and then the insides can be used for an amazingly easy eggplant dip afterwards with just a bit of olive oil, garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper for flavour! Another method which I’ve been loving is to halve the eggplant, add just a bit of seasoning to each open face, and pop em’ in the oven. Again, they can be served just like that, or with whatever flavours you choose on top.
To make them the focal point of a meal, however, I wanted to add a bit of texture and punch of colour to really make them a visual (and tasty) show-stopper. This dish is inspired by a dish in the Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, which celebrates vegetables in innovative ways. I was inspired by the beauty of this dish, and then took the ingredients in a new direction!
For this recipe, after roasting them, I chose to jazz them up a little with a simple Greek yogurt sauce, fresh parsley, and some pomegranate seeds on top. These flavours are tried and tested, and (bonus) ANYONE can do this. The hardest part about this dish is extracting the pomegranate seeds without getting red juice all over your kitchen (and even that can be arranged for you by most grocery stores these days for a small price).
Another way to cook the eggplant is over the BBQ! I love grilling everything and anything in the summer, and I’m missing that now that I’ve chosen to pursue the downtown condo life. Nonetheless, the oven works just as well, but I do miss that hint of smoky flavour that the grill creates. If you’ve got access to a grill, see below for my suggestions on how to cook the eggplant!
This dish can be modified in so many ways. Rather than Greek yogurt and pomegranates, try topping the eggplant with crumbled feta and diced tomatoes and olives. Or, just drizzle a lemon, olive oil and garlic dressing over top and let the beautiful eggplant shine. Serve this dish alongside my aromatic basmati rice and enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant with Greek Yogurt Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds
Make veggies the star of your meal with this Middle Eastern spiced eggplant garnished with a citrus Greek yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds for a pop of colour and sweetness! It's quick, easy, and so healthy!
For the Eggplant
- 1 Italian eggplant
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
For the Yogurt Sauce
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mint, chopped
- 1/2 tsp honey
- seeds of half of a pomegranate
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Carefully score the inside surface of the eggplant with your knife, creating a diagonal checkerboard pattern. Try to cut deep enough to almost touch the skin of the eggplant, but avoid slicing through the whole eggplant. Good luck!
In a small bowl, combine the cumin and sumac.
Take the scored eggplant and gently open them up slightly so the squares you just created with your knife are slightly separated. From about 1 foot above**, sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the eggplant. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Place the eggplants on a baking dish and pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the eggplants and turn the oven on to broil. Lightly brush the eggplants with extra virgin olive oil (if you don’t have a brush, lightly drizzle). Put the eggplants back in the oven for about 3 minutes to brown the top of the eggplant (but be careful! Broil is powerful!).
While the eggplant cooks, combine all of the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl.
Garnish the eggplants with the yogurt sauce, parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve alongside any extra yogurt sauce. Enjoy!
*To grill the eggplants, first brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Place face-side down over medium heat and close the lid. Flip after about 5 minutes, or until grill-marks appear. Grill on the underside for about 5 minutes or until tender. Serve!
**Seasoning from high up helps ensure even seasoning of your piece of meat/fish/vegetable.