Serves 4 as a starter
2 large and long eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp za;atar
9 tbsp buttermilk
½ cup greek yogurt
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the stalk. Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incision in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through the skin. Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond shaped pattern.
3. Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil. Keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
4. While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wood spoon or a rolling pint to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin/membrane.
5. To make the sauce, whisk together buttermilk, Greek yogurt, 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, garlic, and pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and then keep cold until needed.
6. To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle za atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme .Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.