This Middle Eastern Grilled Eggplant works perfectly as an appetizer, side dish, or part of the main course.
I recommend using the globe variety for this grilled eggplant dish, but if you choose to use smaller Japanese eggplants, you will need to increase the amount called for in this recipe, skip the leaching step, and adjust for a shorter cooking time.
Serve this Middle Eastern Grilled Eggplant with pita and rice for a meatless meal, or serve alongside chicken or lamb kebabs for the meat lovers.
Note on Za’atar: Thisrecipe calls for za’atar spice, a richly flavored Middle Eastern spice mixture that typically consists of toasted sesame seeds, dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt, and citrus zest.
Middle Eastern Grilled Eggplant Ingredients:
- 2 eggplants, medium-sized
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Whole milk yogurt
- Fresh mint leaves (you can also use parsley or green onion if preferred)
- Pomegranate seeds (you can purchase these in small tubs in most grocery stores or through Middle Eastern markets.
- Fresh roma tomatoes (optional)
For zaatar spice:
- Dried thyme
- Dried oregano
- Cumin powder
- Coriander powder
- Clack pepper
- Red pepper flakes
How to Make Grilled Eggplant:
- Place each eggplant half onto a large baking sheet, skin side up. Sprinkle the exposed flesh with salt and let them stand for 30-35 minutes to extract the bitter juices.
- Preheat your grill for 375 degrees or medium heat.
- Blot the flesh portion of the eggplants dry with paper towels. Lightly score flesh with a sharp knife.
- Combine thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and pepper flakes in a small bowl.
- Brush eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning onto the flesh portion.
- Place onto the grill eggplant skin side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes. Gently turn and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until eggplant flesh golden brown and tender. They should be scoopable but not completely gooey, and the skins should have a bit of char to them.
- Remove grilled eggplant from heat and place onto a large clean platter. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Finish off with a heaping spoonful of yogurt, pomegranate seeds, chopped tomatoes and mint. Serve immediately.
If you are making this Middle Eastern Grilled Eggplant for meal planning purposes, skip the yogurt and garnishing steps until ready to eat. Trying to reheat eggplant halves with yogurt will become messy. Reheat the grilled eggplant in the microwave (or your oven) until warmed through, then apply the sesame seeds, yogurt, and mint once plated.
Middle Eastern Grilled Eggplant
- 2 medium globe eggplants cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1 cup whole milk yogurt (opt for creamy over tart)
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (2 tablespoons per eggplant half)
- 1 large diced roma tomato (optional)
For zaatar spice:
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper flakes
- Place each eggplant half onto a large baking sheet, skin side up. Sprinkle the exposed flesh with salt and let stand for 30-35 minutes. This process will extract the bitter juices.
- I recommend a charcoal grill for this dish, but it’s okay to use a gas or pellet unit, and of course your oven works too. The recommended cooking temperature is around 375 degrees F.
- Blot flesh portions dry with clean paper towels. Lightly score flesh with a sharp knife (see photo for guidance).Combine thyme, oregano, cumin, coriander, black pepper, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Brush eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning onto the flesh portion.
- Place onto grill seasoned side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes. Gently turn and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until eggplant flesh is tender (scoopable, but not completely gooey), and skins have a bit of char to them.
- Remove from heat and place onto a large clean platter. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Finish the dish off with a heaping spoonful or two of yogurt on each half, pomegranate seeds, diced tomatoes and chopped mint. Serve immediately.