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Za’atar Roasted Eggplant with Tahini

I cook a whole lot of eggplant in this book because it’s one of the most versatile veggies, and can take on a myriad of textures depending on how you cook it. This roasted number is a meatier vegetable side that can stand up to any protein, or even stand-in for one as the topper for your next grain bowl. Halved eggplant is roasted in a lemony za’atar oil to take on an herbaceous tang before getting drizzled with garlicky tahini for richness and date syrup for a sweet finish. It tastes like you put in a lot more effort than you actually did, which is the ultimate sign of a great dish!

If you take away anything from this recipe, it’s the love of a crosshatch. For any ingredient like eggplant that soaks up flavor, scoring the flesh allows the flavors to penetrate deeper, while creating more surface area for crispy edges. The key is using a sharp knife and a delicate hand, since you don’t want to cut all the way through to the skin of the eggplant. As for the eggplant itself, this may be the only time in life where a small eggplant is preferred. I find the jumbo ones to be tough in texture and packed with too many seeds, so try for a modest 8-ouncer. And in the summer, try this recipe with the tiny Fairy Tale eggplants you’ll find at the farmers’ market—they’re my favorite!

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


2 pounds Italian eggplant (4 small), halved lengthwise
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons za’atar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1⁄4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons date syrup (silan)
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Flaky sea salt, for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Score the flesh of each eggplant half with a paring knife, making a series of 1⁄2-inch-long slices (about 1⁄4 inch deep) on the diagonal and then another round of slices perpendicular to the first, creating a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplant cut-side up on the prepared sheet pan.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, za’atar, lemon zest, and a heavy pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the egg-plant, rubbing it into the crosshatches.
4. Roast the eggplant for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender when pierced with a paring knife.
5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and warm water until smooth. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the eggplant to a platter and drizzle with the tahini sauce and date syrup. Garnish with the mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, and a pinch of flaky sea salt, then serve.

JEWISH: A COOKBOOK: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Photography © 2021 by Matt Taylor-Gross. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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