In the midst of all that’s been happening this summer, my birthday (for the first time in my life) seemed like a bit of an afterthought. No big party, no Carvel cake. I even realized that for about four months before my 26th birthday this summer, I was going around telling people that I was already 26 and soon-to-be 27…because I really thought that was my age. Is this what getting old is?
Which is not to say the lack of birthday celebration was a bad thing. With all the other great experiences I had this summer, I honestly barely noticed that July 23rd passed without an excess of fanfare. But if there was one element of if that I did miss, it was the family barbecue that usually marks the event. And so, in the spirit of making up for lost thyme (get it?!), here it is, one of the dishes that I made for my family birthday barbecue last year, and that I will definitely make for any future ones! The instructions call for baking in the oven, but if you are comfortable with grilling eggplant, this is a great recipe to add to your barbecue for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Eggplant with Thyme and Buttermilk Sauce
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes 4 servings
For the eggplant:
2 large eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
7-10 sprigs fresh thyme, optional, to decorate
Maldon sea salt
seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 teaspoon zatar
For the sauce:
9 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise (don’t remove the stalk). Use a small knife to cut a diamond pattern into the eggplant without cutting through the skin.
Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. Place the eggplant halves, skin-side down, on the baking sheet. Brush the olive oil on the eggplants, and then sprinkle with the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper.
Bake the eggplant for 40 to 50 minutes. It is done baking when it is soft and browned. Remove it from the oven and set it aside while you prepare the sauce.
To make the sauce, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together, and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, spoon the sauce over the eggplant halves, and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and zatar. If using, garnish with the thyme sprigs. Finally, drizzle with some olive oil.