There was a time, about two years ago, when a 2-cup Pyrex container of tahini sauce lived permanently on the top shelf of our fridge, cleaned out and refreshed weekly. I was working as the recipe editor and tester for Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook's Israeli Soul cookbook, and by the time I turned in the last manuscript pages, whipping up a new batch of this staple sauce was as second nature as spreading butter on toast. (And, I might add, much more satisfying.) This Za'atar Eggplant Pizza is an homage to that time in my life, and the perfect way to celebrate the merging of late-summer eggplants with early fall weather.
Though the Israeli Soul project wrapped up quite a while ago, the experience changed my seasoning game forever. A jar of crushed urfa pepper replaced the shaker of red pepper flakes next to the stove. Ground cumin graduated from a small jar to a pint-size container in my spice cabinet. And whenever I make oven fries, I reach for baharat and za'atar spice blends more often than not. So how did it take this long for me to put za'atar eggplant on a pizza? And, now that I mention it, how is this the first pizza I've drizzled with tahini sauce?
Better late than never, am I right?!
PS: as a bonus, this pizza happens to be vegan, too!
Za'atar Eggplant Pizza with Tahini Sauce
- 1 small to medium eggplant very thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- extra-virgin olive oil
- za'atar spice blend
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as mint, parsley, and basil
For the tahini sauce (slightly adapted from the tahini sauce in Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook's ISRAELI SOUL cookbook)
- 1 cup tahini
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 to 1 cup ice water
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone/steel in the oven before you start preheating).
- In a colander in the sink, toss the sliced eggplant with the salt. Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then pat the slices dry with paper towels and set aside on a plate.
- Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12-inch circle, then transfer it to an oiled baking sheet or a floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with a little oil and season generously with the za'atar spice blend.
- Arrange the seasoned eggplant slices on the dough, and brush the edges of the dough with a little olive oil.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the eggplant looks dry and has browned a bit, 8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 6 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- While the pizza bakes, make the tahini sauce. Combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and cumin in a food processor. Process just until combined (about 30 seconds), then keep the motor running and stream in the ice water until the mixture lightens and the sauce becomes smooth and drizzly.
- Take the pizza out of the oven. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Slice and serve.