Middle Eastern flavours and different textures, from the chewy roasted chickpeas, silky aubergine and crunchy almonds come together in this salad that works well as a side dish with barbecued meats or on its own with some toasted pitta bread for a light vegan lunch.
Zaatar is a mixture of spices, often using cumin, fennel seeds, sesame seeds and sumac that I have recently found to be a perfect paring with tomatoes. The smoked sea salt is also a new discovery and something I would definitely recommend trying.
Roasted chickpea, aubergine and tomato salad with zaatar and pomegranate molasses
3 aubergines, sliced lengthways, about 3mm thick
1 ½ cans chickpeas, roughly 360g
Two large handfuls of flaked almonds
250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
A large handful of fresh parsley
For the dressing
A good few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of one large lemon
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp runny honey
2 tsp zaatar
A few good pinches of sea salt flakes (smoked sea salt if you can find some!)
Salt the aubergines for a moment and dab with paper towel to draw out some of the excess moisture. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and grill them on both sides until soft and charred.
Pre-heat your oven to 200oC (fan oven).
Drain and rinse your chickpeas. Put them onto a baking tray and use some paper towel to rub them to soak up the excess moisture. Toss with some olive oil, season with salt and put them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan every ten minutes or so. They might pop, which is normal, and should turn slightly golden. Leave to cool.
Lightly toast the almonds in a dry pan until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and add more molasses, honey, spices or salt until it tastes just right.
In a large bowl, combine the grilled aubergine, chickpeas and tomatoes and dress with the dressing. Chop the parsley leaves into the salad and sprinkle over the almonds. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.