Food writer Mark Diacono says this is his favourite way with aubergines and one that shows how they take beautifully to so many herbs.

He enthuses: “The oregano in the za’atar and the rosemary lend flavour to the cooking aubergines, while the fresh basil scattered to serve completes the picture. Adding the rosemary for the last few minutes aromatizes the aubergines; I know ‘aromatize’ sounds like the sort of unwelcome thing a garage unexpectedly does to your car when you’ve taken it for an MOT, but I promise it is the best word for it.


“It is as if resinous smoke has been blown through every pore of the aubergine, without a trace of the bitterness that comes with roasting rosemary sprigs until they resemble the skeletons of sparrows’ legs. Try this with roast lamb, griddled courgettes, couscous and pretty much any cold cuts.”

Rosemary and basil aubergines in za’atar
(Mark Diacono/PA)
Rosemary and basil aubergines in za’atar
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Rosemary and basil aubergines in za’atar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 437 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 19g
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 1766mg77%
Potassium 1258mg36%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 17g71%
Sugar 17g19%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 196IU4%
Vitamin C 26mg32%
Calcium 195mg20%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Rosemary and basil aubergines in za’atar

Beautifully flavoured vegetables
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Servings: 4
Calories: 437kcal
Author: Mark Diacono


  • Frying pan
  • Baking sheets
  • Bowl


  • 4 aubergines (eggplant) quartered lengthways
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • A few good sprigs of rosemary broken into 3cm (1in) pieces
  • 4 tbsp za’atar (see below)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the za’atar (makes a small jarful):

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano, dried marjoram, oregano, savory or hyssop
  • 1 tbsp salt

For the dressing:

  • 50 g tahini
  • 1 tbsp yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

To serve:

  • Pomegranate molasses
  • Hot sauce or chilli flakes
  • Handful of Greek basil leaves, or other basil finely shredded


  • Make the za’atar. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a pan over a medium heat, shuffling them around a bit to ensure they don’t turn too dark. Combine all the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle, as much as anything to encourage the flavours and scents to be released as they mix. Store in a sealed jar, where it will keep for a few months, losing intensity over time.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  • Lay the aubergine quarters in a single layer on baking sheets, brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven, turn the heat down to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, and cook for 20–25 minutes until tender and brown.
  • Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together with two tablespoons water; use a little more water if required, to reach a consistency of double (heavy) cream.
  • Mix the rosemary, za’atar and a heavy grinding of pepper in a bowl. Remove the aubergines from the oven, top with the za’atar mix, drizzle with more oil and return to the oven for five minutes.
  • Drizzle with the tahini dressing, pomegranate molasses, hot sauce or chilli flakes and scatter with basil.


Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1766mg | Potassium: 1258mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 5mg

Herb by Mark Diacono is published by Quadrille. Photography Mark Diacono. 

Herb: A Cook's Companion
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Diacono, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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