I adore middle eastern flavours and incorporate them into a lot of my cooking. This middle-eastern inspired salad includes roasted aubergine spiced with za’atar, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, fresh coriander and a tahini-lemon dressing.
Za’atar is a middle eastern aromatic herb and spice blend mixed with sesame seeds, dried sumac, cumin and other spices. In this salad, I have roasted the aubergines with the za’atar give them a herby flavour. The earthy taste of the tahini and the zesty lemon in the dressing compliment the spiciness of the za’atar whilst the pomegranate seeds add some sweetness.
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and a key element of middle eastern dips such as hummus and baba ganoush. Tahini is extremely nutritious and a beneficial source for fibre, calcium, manganese, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. Traditionally, tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds, which means that the outer bran has been removed. However, when the bran is removed from the sesame seed, most of this nutrition is lost. Therefore, these varieties which are often dubbed ‘light tahini’ cannot be considered whole foods since part of the original food is missing.
When buying tahini, you need to be careful to avoid ‘light’ varieties where the seeds have been hulled. Instead, I buy ‘dark tahini ‘which is made from unhulled seeds so contains all the nutritional qualities. I am yet to discover a good quality dark tahini in supermarkets who tend to only stock the less nutritious light variety. You can find dark tahini in independent health food shops.
Middle-eastern inspired Za’atar and Aubergine salad
- 3 large aubergines
- Za’atar spice blend
- 200g pomegranate seeds
- 240g chickpeas (1 x 400g can drained or you can pre-prepare 120g dry chickpeas beforehand by soaking overnight and then boiling for 1 hour 10 minutes on the hob)
- 100g fresh coriander
- 2 tbsp dark tahini
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar (I use Biona organic with the mother)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan oven) and prepare the aubergines. Wash them and cut off the leafy tops. Then slice the aubergines into thin slices and lay them out in two roasting tins. Drizzle olive oil over the aubergines and sprinkle 2-3 tbsp za’atar spice over them. Roast the aubergines for about 20 minutes until they are crisp at the edges.
Whilst the aubergines are cooking, wash the fresh coriander, dry it off and chop it up. Prepare the dressing by mixing the lemon juice with tahini, cider vinegar and maple syrup.
When the aubergines are crisp at the edges but still soft in the middle, take them out of the oven and tip into a large serving bowl. Mix the aubergines with the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves. Pour on the tahini-lemon dressing.
Serve and enjoy! x