You can find za’atar (a fragrant Middle Eastern spice mix) at Vetro, or for a simple version combine equal amounts of dried thyme, sumac and lightly toasted sesame seeds. It’s lovely over any roasted vegetable or sprinkled over salads or eggs.
2 medium eggplants
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp za’atar
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup Puy or black lentils
200g halloumi, sliced thickly
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1–2 tsp red wine or apple cider vinegar, to taste
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line two oven trays with baking paper or grease well with olive oil. Slice eggplants into 1.5cm rounds, then cut each into halves or quarters depending on their size. Transfer to oven trays, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over za’atar. Using your hands, mix well to evenly coat eggplant in the spices. Spread slices out in a single layer and roast 15–20 minutes or until golden underneath, swapping trays around after 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Flip each piece over and cook for a further 10 minutes or until golden on both sides and tender right through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. As soon as you’ve got the eggplant in the oven, place halved cherry tomatoes onto another tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast 30–35 minutes or until charred and the juices have concentrated. Remove from the oven and set aside with the eggplant.
Meanwhile rinse lentils and drain, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 15–20 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Pan-fry halloumi slices in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil until golden on both sides. Remove from the heat and cut each piece in half. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar, adding just enough vinegar to give it a nice edge. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine za’atar eggplant, roasted tomatoes, lentils, halloumi and red onion in a large bowl, drizzle over dressing and scatter with chopped parsley. Best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
Recipe and images Emma Gall0way