Roast eggplant with pine nuts, basil and saffron garlic yoghurt

Neil Perry
The flavours of saffron and garlic come to the fore in this simple dish.
The flavours of saffron and garlic come to the fore in this simple dish. Photo: William Meppem

This vegetarian dish is inspired by the simple flavours of the Middle East. I also like to add tea-plumped raisins to the eggplant; this gives it a wonderful sweetness and works well with the pine nuts and yoghurt.


3 small eggplants

extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, skin on

4 vine-ripened tomatoes

small pinch of saffron strands

3 tbsp hot water

180g thick Greek yoghurt

zest of half a lemon

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

20 basil leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Cut eggplants into wedges, brush with plenty of oil and season well. Roast in a baking tray with the garlic cloves for about 25 minutes, until the eggplant pieces are golden and the garlic has softened.

2. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and dice. When the eggplant is cooked, turn off the oven, remove the roasted garlic and add the diced tomatoes to the tray. Place back into the oven, warming  the tomatoes using the residual heat.

3. Infuse the saffron in the hot water for five minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins and mash with a fork. Place the yoghurt in a bowl along with lemon zest, roasted garlic, saffron water and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth and check seasoning.

4. Serve the warm eggplant and tomatoes on a large plate and drizzle saffron yoghurt on top. Garnish with pine nuts and torn basil leaves.