Fresh oregano must be one of the most underused herbs. It is rather potent, so must be used with care, similar to rosemary or sage. It’s a herb that can dominate if used too liberally. However, oregano is very versatile and works well in marinades or dressings for roasted vegetables or substantial salads. It also flavours gratins and makes a great addition to pasta sauces, pizzas, or over steamed potatoes.
Some combinations are just a match made in Middle eastern heaven. Eggplant and Tahini, for example. With roasted wedges of eggplant and a creamy tahini sauce, it’s hard to go wrong. The fresh oregano needs to be added with a little caution as mentioned, but adds a fresh herby note to the dish.
Wedges of eggplant are baked and then marinated in garlic, chilli, herbs and oil, before being dressed with the tahini sauce. Truly, the baked eggplant wedges are good enough to eat on their own, so make sure that you cook enough of them to have a quick snack while making the dish. For the finished dish, the play of the green flavours of the herbs against the eggplant and tahini is magnificent. And don’t you love the way that lemon juice works with tahini? I have always loved that.
It is a magical side dish, entree, mezze plate addition or salad, and can be made up to 2 days in advance. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book Ottolenghi.
Small eggplants such as Japanese or Chinese varieties are good to use for this recipe, as well as the globe varieties. If using white eggplants, perhaps peel them before roasting as the skin is thicker than most other small eggplants.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Ottolenghi. It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one day per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar dishes include Algerian Eggplant Salad/Spread, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, Eggplant and Zucchini Baked with Chickpeas and Harissa, Eggplant Steaks, and Saffron and Rose Scented Eggplants.
Browse all of our Eggplant dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Ottolenghi and from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.
Marinated Eggplant with Tahini and Oregano
3 small eggplants
olive oil for brushing
sea salt and black pepper
tahini sauce (see here for recipe – make a double portion without the herbs)
150ml tahini paste
80ml lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tspn chilli paste (or to taste, depending on the heat of your chilli paste) or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 Tblspn coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 Tblspn oregano leaves, finely chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 Tblspn lemon juice
4 Tblspn olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Trim the stalk end off the eggplants and then cut each one into two pieces widthways. Cut the fat, lower piece into half lengthways, and then cut each half into 3 wedges. Repeat with the upper half of the eggplants but cut each half into 2 wedges, making 10 wedges in total for each eggplant.
Place the eggplant on the baking tray and brush all sides with plenty of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the hot oven and bake the eggplant for 15 – 18 mins until they are golden brown and totally soft inside.
Meanwhile, make the marinade. Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Make the Tahini Sauce. Whisk the tahini, the lemon juice, garlic, a pinch of salt and water until it is the consistency of a thick sauce. The mixture should be creamy and smooth.If it is too thick, add a little more water. Taste and adjust salt, lemon and garlic if needed. Set the sauce aside. The sauce can be made with a processor or blender, but it is easy to whisk it by hand.
When the eggplants are cooked, place them in a bowl and spoon the marinade over them and leave at room temperature for up to 2 hours before serving. You can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days at this stage, but don’t serve them cold. Leave them out of the fridge for at least an hour.
To serve, arrange the eggplant pieces on a plate. Spoon the tahini sauce over the top and garnish with a few oregano leaves, or serve the tahini in a bowl on the side, topped with the oregano leaves.