To me, eggplant is one of the many great joys of summer. While it’s often seen as just a vessel for cheese & marinara sauce (hello eggplant parm, we do not hate you!), if you know me by know you know that I crave more than just that. With eggplant, I often naturally feel drawn to Mediterranean flavors and that was ultimately the inspiration behind this recipe.
Whole lemons mixed with salt and lemon juice can be beautifully preserved as a tart and salty condiment. Common in Moroccan and North African dishes, this ingredient is wonderful in sauces, dressings, with roasted or grilled vegetables, and with cooked protein such as chicken or salmon.
This Middle Eastern spice blend consists of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, and salt. While you can make it at home, it has also grown in popularity in American and stores such as Trader Joe’s now carry it as well.
A simple, delicious weeknight dinner that will satisfy. If desired, serve over rice or your favorite grain with a crunchy raw salad of tomatoes, cucumber & radishes.
Eggplant with Preserved Lemon Yogurt and Za’atar-Roasted Chickpeas
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas rinsed if canned
- 4 small to medium eggplants about 2 lb., halved lengthwise
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt & black pepper
- 2 tablespoons za’atar
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 preserved lemon finely chopped and seeds removed
- sumac, Aleppo pepper, tender fresh herbs (thyme, mint, dill) for sprinkling
Spread out chickpeas on a kitchen towel. Pat dry, then let dry for about an hour. Score cut sides of eggplants with a sharp knife. Rub with 2 T olive oil and season with salt.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make sure you have two racks available, one in the middle and one in the upper third of oven. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, and spread chickpeas evenly on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven until crunchy, about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. (The chickpeas will continue to get crunchy as they cool.)
For the eggplant place skin side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender and golden, 25–28 minutes; remove from oven. Place hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with 2 T olive oil, za’atar and salt (to taste).
To make the preserved lemon yogurt: Combine yogurt and preserved lemon in a medium bowl; season with black pepper, about 1 tsp or to taste. Thin out with a bit of water until ‘drizzle’ consistency is reached.
To assemble, place the eggplants cut side up on a platter. Drizzle with the preserved lemon yogurt. Sprinkle on the chickpeas and finish with a couple pinches of sumac & Aleppo pepper and well as some fresh herbs, if desired.