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 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
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 2021-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best-selling clothes storage boxes

Haven’t time to make your own za’atar? Check out our list of best-selling za’atar spice on Amazon!

Bestseller No. 1
Za'atar Spice Mix Superior Hand Blended Premium Mix by Spice Masters - Easy Meals Quickly -...
  • Our hand blended Zaatar spice is made in small batches to our own recipes using the very best ingredients so you get easy superior results every time, our motto has always been - Authentic Made...
  • We’ll also show you how to easily cook a tray bake vegetarian meal in less than 40 minutes with our easy to follow downloadable recipe (instructions included), we’ve got over 20 years’...
  • Each pack of Zaatar spice contains just spices and no artificial preservatives or additives. It’s packed full of flavour and a little goes a long way, you will receive enough to cook 5 wonderful...
Bestseller No. 2
Med Cuisine "Nablus" Za'atar Mix - A Staple Herb Blend in Middle Eastern Kitchens - Aromatic Middle...
  • 100% NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Med Cuisine Spices are carefully picked and chosen by our team who constantly traveling around the middle east and the Mediterranean sea to bring you the most authentic and...
  • VEGAN SPICE MIX : All our spices are Vegan without any additives, NO MSG, NO GSM, Dairy Free, Kosher and hold FSSC22000 Food Quality Certificate. A mix of Herbs (Hyssop, Oregano, Thyme), Sesame Seeds,...
  • SPICY HERBS & SESAME SEED: Give your recipes that salty and slightly spicy touch with Med Cuisine "Nablus" Za'atar Mix! It is delicious and very helpful to give a touch of extra flavor to all kinds of...
Bestseller No. 4
Za'atar | Zatar | Zaatar Mix Spice Blend Premium Quality Free UK P&P 50g-950g (50g)
  • A blended mixture of selected ingredients Toasted Sesame Seed, Thyme, Sumach, Sea Salt. Produce of more than one country, blended in the UK
  • 100% pure with no fillers, colours or binders. Suitable for vegetarians & vegans.
  • Supplied in our Zip lock stand up Aluminium doypack pouches.
Bestseller No. 5
Gourmet Spice Company Za'atar Spice 40 g (Pack of 3)
  • Essential part of any middle eastern cuisine
  • Citrusy taste without the acidity of lemon
  • Gluten-free, sugar-free with no fillers

Last update on 2021-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You may also be interested in…

Wise Living Magazine may receive a small commission to help support the running of this site from purchases made from links on this page, or some links may have been sponsored to be included in the article. Affiliate or sponsored links do not influence our editorial or articles published by Wise Living.



Recipe Rating

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.