Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce and Pomegranates

eggplant with buttermilk sauce and pomegranates

eggplant with buttermilk sauce and pomegranates

A few months ago, I read that Harvard was going to have a free online class on science and cooking through the I was intrigued by the class and so I signed up for it. When I almost forgot about it, I got the email that the class has officially started! The introduction was quite interesting and I believe the class has potential to teach me quite a few things. You see, while I am a scientist, when cooking I rely more on my experience and common sense, because that’s how I learned to cook. In my home, you measured ingredients often ‘by eye’ and adjusted based on taste. I do, of course, use my skills as a chemist while cooking, most of the time probably fully unaware of it, but I believe there is room for more science in my cooking 🙂 If you want to check it out the class is SPU27x Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science and among the teachers there are Harold McGee and Feran Adria himself! It does help to be a chemist/biologist, but if you’re not, they do provide enough background information and additional material for anyone to be able to follow the class.

The first homework used this buttermilk eggplant recipe to help you get more familiar with nutritional facts. While it was not required to make it, I figured it was worth a try. You see, I barely eat any eggplant. My mom loves eggplant salad (the Romanian version of Baba Ghanoush), but I used to find it disgusting as a kid. It wasn’t until I made it college that I gave it a second try. One of the Romanian students invited us over to have some eggplant salad and with everyone raving about it, I felt bad saying I don’t eat it and my more mature eater self, gave it another try. It wasn’t as bad as my memory believed, but it was still not something I would go out of my way to try. Since now I am an even more mature eater, and since over the years I did turn dishes I didn’t like into edible ones when cooking them myself, I figured this recipe was a good opportunity to give the eggplant another chance. And this was indeed the perfect recipe as the eggplant tasted delicious, no bitterness at all, and I was/still am quite impressed with it. My husband also admitted this was one of the better eggplant recipes he’s tried, but it still tasted like eggplant (duh? :-)). It will probably not become a regular dinner, but I will definitely serve it again as an appetizer so non-eggplant eaters like ourselves can still enjoy it without feeling overwhelmed by too much eggplant 😉

Also, while reading this recipe it sounded very familiar. That’s when I realized I saw it recently on REMCooks, so feel free to check out his pictures and story as well here.

Recipe notes: original recipes calls for 2 eggplants to make 4 starters, but I ~halved the recipe and used one big one to serve 2 as dinner. There was some ambiguity about the temperature of the oven: Epicurious says 200F (which is quite low), class website says 200C (390F), and REMCooks says 350F according to the Plenty cookbook. I ended up using 400F since my eggplant was quite big and I was getting hungry, but 350F should work as well.

Ingredients (serves 2 as dinner):

  • 1 giant eggplant
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1-2 tsps dried)
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • 41/2 Tb buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tb olive oil + some for drizzle
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F (or 350F). Meanwhile, slice your eggplant in half and make 3-4 parallel slices without cutting the skin, followed by 3-4 more at a 45 degree angle. I was a little conservative in my cuts, but if you go skin to skin, they should form a diamond pattern.

sliced eggplant

sliced eggplant

Place eggplant halves onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper/foil/non-stick mat. Brush the eggplant with olive oil until it soaks up all the oil, and it will! This thing is like a sponge, I swear it could soak up an entire bottle 🙂

olive oil soaked up!

olive oil soaked up!

Season eggplant with salt, pepper, and sprinkle with the thyme sprigs.

seasoned eggplant

seasoned eggplant

Roast anywhere between 35 min – 1hr depending on the size, until the flesh is soft and delicious, and the top is starting to brown. While the eggplants are in the oven, remove the arils of the pomegranate by either cutting in half and beating with a wooden spoon, or submerging it under water and removing the membrane and arils by hand. Prepare the sauce by whisking together the buttermilk, yogurt, olive oil, and then adding the crushed garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

roasted eggplant

roasted eggplant

Let eggplant cool for a little bit, season with za’atar, then spoon over the buttermilk sauce, and top with lots of pomegranate seeds and more fresh thyme. Enjoy!

This recipe is sooo good that you should definitely give it a try, especially if you like eggplant in general. I am probably going to check out some other recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi! Have you made any of his dishes? Do you own any of his cookbooks?

Wishing everyone a great weekend! If you’re in the LA area, check out this Sriracha festival. If you don’t like the windy kitchen on facebook (you should :-)), here is a great article about the Sriracha creator.

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8 Responses to Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce and Pomegranates

  1. Louisa says:

    I did this too — made the recipe even though it wasn’t official homework. I loved it, but the rest of my family (43 year old husband, 10 and 8 year old girls) did not. “The flavors are good but the eggplant is slimy.”

  2. Yotam!! I got his book Jerusalem for my birthday, begged for it after my sister cooked us some of his dishes while she was here visiting this summer from the East coast — specifically, cardamom chicken and rice. I have NEVER tasted anything so amazing from such simple ingredients! I am so excited to cook everything in that gorgeous book. I am just having trouble getting my hands on some of the necessary spices. This is the cover photo of Plenty! I had wondered what flavors went into it, and now I know!

    I was never the biggest eggplant fan, either, but after reading Yotam and some blogs I really wanted to get into it. I’ve bought and prepared several over the last couple months, with some wins and some not-so-greats. I made a parsley-eggplant dip that I hated, so I stirred it into risotto and it was wonderful. It does have an aquired texture but I am so proud of you for trying it again and again! That makes you such an excellent eater and cook and dinner-party guest 🙂 I really want to try this version as soon as I get some za’tar! It sounds soooo good. There are so many types of za’tar! Lots to learn!

    • Lucky girl 🙂 I am slightly conservative when it comes to buying/asking for cookbooks because they take up a lot of space and I don’t end up using them very often since I usually get tempted by recipes online first. However, this eggplant was so flavorful that I am tempted by his books. Fortunately, he has a column in the guardian with quite a nice collection of recipes, so I will probably give some of those a try before purchasing his cookbook(s). Yes, you are right, I am much better behaved party guest now that I willing to give everything a try 🙂 I got my za’atar from the Spice House since I trust their blends, but I know some people choose to make their own as well. Mine contains sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, hyssop, and oregano. Hope you’ll find some that you’ll like 😉

  3. Cookbooks DO take up a lot of room, but I can’t resist them! I am a print girl at heart (probably has to do with my father being a graphic designer and teaching me to love printed artwork), and I love the photos and the print smell and lying them open on the counter while I cook. My collection isn’t all that large yet, and because of seasonality I often cook from blogs anyway….. the advantage is that cookbook recipes are usually better tested, less likely to give me poor results as some blogs have. But Yotam’s books are wonderful! I think you will enjoy them, I especially love his treatment of vegetables 🙂

  4. Pingback: Homemade Ricotta and Feta Tart with Sun-dried Tomatoes | the windy kitchen

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