Grilled Eggplant with Za’atar + Herby Lentil Salad

Grilled eggplant with za'atar spice blend and an herby lentil salad with mint, parsley and pine nuts. Vegan and gluten free.

 Matt asked me the other day what my favorite vegetable is. Uh, PANIC! And are we counting tomatoes and avocados here? I seriously couldn’t answer, there are far too many magnificent vegetables out there to choose from. Nothing can beat a vine ripened tomato during the summer time, or some sweet roasted squash in the fall, what about the gorgeous deep purple of beetroot during winter months, or the simple beauty of a pink and white radish come spring? How can anyone pick a favorite? Poor guy, I bet he thought that was an easy question, and didn’t need a 20 minute rant on how amazing vegetables are. So, I don’t know what my #1 would be, but I definitely know that eggplant is high up on the list.

I am a big fan of za’atar, I love the zesty taste of sumac with the nutty crunch of sesame seeds. It is great sprinkled of pretty much anything; hummus, pita, roasted carrots, yogurt. Eggplant and za’atar is one of my favorite combinations, and even better when cooked outside on the grill! Piled high on top of lentil salad loaded with fresh green herbs, here is a simple dish giving vegetables the glory they deserve! Can you pick a favorite?


ZA’ATAR GRILLED EGGPLANT + HERBY LENTIL SALAD

 A fresh, summery salad that combines soft grilled eggplants and lots of fresh herbs. Cold leftovers make great pita fillings with hummus and extra greens. Serves 4, or more as a side. Vegan + Gluten Free.

 You can buy za’atar spice blend in specialty or middle eastern grocery stores, but I prefer to make my own. The recipe below is one that I make here at home, but feel free to play around with the quantities to create a home blend that you love.

Ingredients

4 small eggplants
Salt
Olive Oil
1 + tablespoon za’atar (recipe below)
1 cup beluga lentils, preferably soaked overnight
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Handful of golden raisins
1 cup packed fresh herbs; mint + parsley work well
Juice and zest of one lemon
Black pepper and salt to taste

Za’atar Home Blend

1/4 cup sumac
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon corse sea salt

Instructions

Slice the eggplant into rounds, place in a colander and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes, or up to an hour, flipping over every now and then.

Rinse and drain the lentils, and place in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked al dente. Don’t over cook, or you will have a mushy salad. Drain any excess water and rinse the lentils clean. Set aside. (If you are using a different type of lentil, cooking times will vary so just read the instructions).

Preheat your bbq or grill pan to medium high heat, and lightly press the eggplant with kitchen towel to remove any excess water. Brush the sides generously with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar. Place on a grill and flip after 5-7 minutes, then cook for another 5-7 minutes. Brush with extra olive oil if looking dry. Eggplant is done when the meaty center is soft and tender.

To make the za’atar, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Keep in an airtight jar in your pantry. Some people prefer to combine in a food processor or crush in a mortar and pestle, but I prefer to keep things as in, I love the look of it sprinkled over the grilled vegetables. Oregano can also be added to the mix. So there are some options, up to you!

Toss the cooked, cooled lentils with all the herbs, sultanas and toasted pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper and dress with a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Top with grilled eggplant, sprinkle with extra za’atar and lemon zest and serve with hummus or tahini dressing


 Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Janel Gradowski
    July 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Za’atar is one of my favorite spice blends. I bet it is wonderful on the eggplant.

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      July 11, 2014 at 5:42 am

      It sure is :) Thanks for your comment, Janel! J x

  • Reply
    Danielle A. Moore
    July 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    This looks so tasty! Been looking for a way to use a large eggplant I have. this will definitely be dinner sometime soon

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      July 11, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Thanks, Danielle! Enjoy it xx

  • Reply
    Cheri Savory Spoon
    July 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    We love za’ atar but have never used on eggplant, this is a gorgeous looking dish. Love it!

  • Reply
    Shannon @ JustAsDelish
    July 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    This looks so good! I love zaatar & grilled eggplants, must try it this weekend. Thanks for the recipe

  • Reply
    Gather & Dine
    June 11, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Love everything about this. The eggplant, lentils, zaatar… it’s all so perfect. Beautiful salad and beautiful photography.

  • Reply
    The Mistress of Spices
    June 17, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Just discovered your blog and am now pinning away! So many lovely salad recipes. Can’t wait to try some of them!

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      June 23, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Oh wow thank you so much! That comment has made my day! x

  • Reply
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    June 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm

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    June 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

    […] beautiful and super flavorful dish of za’atar grilled eggplant and herby lentil salad. I love all of the color and texture and contrast […]

  • Reply
    cse
    July 7, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    just curious, is a substitute of cumin for sumac in the za’atar possible? and have you ever used balsamic or red wine vinegar as a marinade in addition? great recipe :)

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Camila
    May 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Hey there, I had seen this recipe at One Green Planet a few weeks ago and bookmarked it to try later. I have just made it and had it for lunch, and oh my goodness! was this good!! Such lovely combinations. Thank you so much for the recipe, I shall go explore all the others in the blog. What I have seen so far looks divine! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Jodi Kay
      May 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you so much Camila! I just love this salad too! I can’t wait for summer grilling to make it again. I am so happy you found it on OGP – that site is such a wonderful resource. Thank you for taking the time to say hi, and I very pleased you found a salad you enjoyed! Take care + happy cooking xx

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