Ever since I heard Alton Brown say that Za’atar was one of his favorite spice blends, I’ve been wanting to try it.  So what is it?  It’s a popular Middle Eastern Spice Blend that contains thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac and salt.  It’s commonly used with pita bread – you dip the pita in olive oil and then za’atar.  It can also be used to season meat, vegetables, or hummus.

The recipe below is so easy, and makes good use of all that delicious eggplant that is everywhere right now!  Once again, I’m taking advantage of grilling weather and grilling my eggplant, but you can always roast it if you’d rather!

Eggplant simmering in a tomato Za’atar Sauce
Eggplant and Feta Casserole

Eggplant and Feta Casserole

Ingredients

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp + 1 tablespoon Za’atar – will be split up
  • 6 ounces feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Instructions

    Prepare Eggplant:
  1. Cut Eggplant into rounds, place in bowl, and salt. Let sit for about thirty minutes. I always do this early in the day, salt, and then put the entire bowl in the fridge.
  2. Rinse eggplant, add one tablespoon olive oil to the bowl and toss lightly to coat.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon za’atar and toss lightly again.
  4. Grill eggplant until tender, about four minutes per side.
  5. Once cooled, slice into cubes.
  6. Cook quinoa:
  7. Add one tablespoon EVOO to a pan on medium heat.
  8. Rinse the quinoa, then put in the pan.
  9. Toast lightly, stirring frequently – about one minute.
  10. Add 1 teaspon za’ataar and one cup water. Increase heat – once it starts to boil, turn heat back to medium, put a lid on it and cook for about 10-15 minutes until tender.
  11. You will know it’s done when the water is gone and the quinoa has little “tails”.
  12. Cook sauce:
  13. In a medium saucepan, sauté onions over medium heat until soft, about five minutes.
  14. Add garlic and one tablespoon za’atar, sauté an additional minute.
  15. Add tomato sauce and simmer until sauce has reduced in half, about thirty minutes.
  16. Stir in the cooked quinoa and eggplant.
  17. Now, if you want it to look fancy you put this in a casserole, top with crumbled feta, and bake until the feta browns.
  18. If you’re in a hurry, just dish it up and add the crumbled feta to the top! Either way it will be delicious!
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