Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Garlic Labneh and Za'atar

July 28, 2020

Strained yogurt, otherwise known as labneh, lends a distinctly sour taste that bodes incredibly well with these creamy grilled eggplant halves. Equipped with slow-roasted garlic and homemade za'atar, these in-season favorites are elevated with accoutrements, but still remain the stars of this dish, shining all on their own. Grilled for maximal tenderness (and salted beforehand to achieve the best possible browning), these purple pleasantries are hard to resist, especially when they’re prepared like this. Feel free to use store-bought za'atar in the place of homemade, and don’t hesitate to make this recipe your own by tweaking seasoning ratios or introducing other herbs and spices into the mix. Think: creamy and crunchy, mellow and bold. Think: easy to make, yet mouth wateringly delicious.


Ingredients:

2 Local Roots eggplant

2 cups Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

2 Fresno chiles, deseeded and thinly sliced

1 tsp. thyme, dried

1 tsp. Local Roots sumac spice blend

1 tsp. sesame seeds

1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 Tbsp. pistachios, chopped (optional)

1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped


Tools:

Mortar and pestle or spice grinder

Cheesecloth


Directions:

  1. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and salt generously to encourage osmosis (process in which water is drawn out of cells). This will help achieve browning and creamy texture later on when grilling. Let sit for 1 hour.
  2. Scoop Greek yogurt into cheesecloth and let hang from the faucet or another fixture where excess water can escape. Let drain for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven (or convection oven) to 350 degrees. Drizzle about 1 tsp. olive oil over garlic cloves and wrap in tin foil. Let roast for 1 hour.
  4. Blend to combine thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. If using a store-bought za'atar spice blend, skip this step.
  5. Remove garlic from the oven and let cool before peeling. Take cheesecloth down from the faucet and empty contents into a small bowl. Once cooled, mix in garlic and season with salt to taste. Set aside in the fridge for later.
  6. Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush grates and eggplant (both sides) with olive oil. Let cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Flip for a remaining 2 minutes, and remove from heat once eggplant appears tender, but not mushy. Set aside and let cool.
  7. To assemble, dollop labneh over eggplant halves, drizzle with olive oil, and top with sliced chiles, chopped pistachios, and parsley.

Recipe by Local Roots Volunteer Jess Santoro (@jess_santoro)





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