Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

I don’t like hypes. A hype is usually a reason for me to stay away from something. I appreciate something because of its qualities, not simply because others appreciate it. That’s why it took me years to start reading Harry Potter. I’m not foolhardy, I actually liked it and read all of the books (in an Italian translation because I was only reading in Italian to practice).

The latest hype in cookery books seems to be Yotam Ottolenghi. I had never heard of him, until Richard blogged about the very same recipe I’m blogging about today. Then I got Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookery book “Plenty” as a birthday present from Kees. And a glossy that I read featured him and we seem to have more in common than I had thought. So there was no escape, I had to prepare some Ottolenghi, despite the hype.

I browsed through the book, and like Richard decided that the eggplant recipe featured on the cover seemed the most attractive. I prepared it and it was lovely. More suitable for summer perhaps, but absolutely lovely. I’ll probably try more of the recipes from the book, even though (or because?) they are different in some way from what I usually prepare. This is quite easy to make and very elegant. I prepared it for 6, but I’m sharing the recipe for 4 as per the original.

Za’atar is a Mediterranean spice mix of which the main ingredients are thyme and sumac.


For 4 servings

2 large and long eggplants

80 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs for garnish

salt and freshly ground black pepper

seeds from 1 pomegranate (click here to read how to get them out)

1 tsp za’atar

For the sauce

135 ml (9 Tbsp) buttermilk

120 ml (1/2 cup) Greek yogurt

1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish

1 small garlic clove, crushed

pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, cutting straight through the green stalk. Leave the stalk on for presentation purposes, not for eating.

Use a small sharp knife to make a diamond-shaped pattern of incisions in the eggplant, making sure not to cut through the skin.

Arrange the eggplants, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil, and keep brushing until all the oil has been used up.

Sprinkle with thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF until the eggplants are soft and browned. Allow to cool.

For the sauce, combine in a bowl the buttermilk…

…Greek yoghurt…

…olive oil…

…and crushed garlic in a bowl.

Whisk to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Pour plenty of the buttermilk sauce on each eggplant half, leaving the stalks visible.

Sprinkle with za’atar and pomegranate seeds, and garnish with sprigs of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.


Saltimbocca alla Romana is one of my favorite secondi di carne, which takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. They are so delicious they ‘jump into your mouth’!

12 thoughts on “Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

  1. I also gave in and made this, and surprised myself by liking it a lot…and I am not an eggplant fan! I’ve made a few other recipes by him, and so far all have been successful. I may actually have to buy some of his books now 🙂 (he has lots of recipes online especially in The Guardian)


  2. Love Ottolenghi’s wonderful warm fun personality and great teaching skills ~ so I began with all his TV series and graduated to his books: have ‘Jerusalem’ and use heaps – love his abundant use of herbs and ‘informal’ plating skills . . . now it seems I just have to get ‘Plenty’!! Use aubergines, both normal and Lebanese at least twice a week – have never made them with buttermilk: so here we go 😀 !!


  3. Ottolenghi does a similar aubergine with chermoula which has gone down very successfully with my friends before. His recipes contain a lot of ingredients, but the techniques are pretty straightforward. And we are lucky here to have a lot of shops that stock the array of herbs and spices that he likes to use. If you cannot source near you, they are available via mail order.
    I’m definitely going to try this version


  4. I have Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” and truly enjoy it. Based on my experience, like Kees, I’ve given “Plenty” as a gift, though to vegetarian friends. As you can probably imagine, though I’ve enjoyed eggplant a number of ways — even called a car we rented in Italy “la melanzan’ — I’ve not tried it this way and it sounds really tasty. The combination of the buttermilk sauce and arils has piqued my interest.


  5. Believe the hype! I love many of the recipes in Plenty (and his newer book, Jerusalem) but I haven’t tried this one–looks like I should! 🙂


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