Za'atar Beef Koftas with Baba Ghanoush & Tomato-Mint Salad
2 medium to large eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
8 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp pine nuts, finely chopped
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
2 Tbsp Za'atar
1/4 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, halved
3 Tbsp tahini paste
Handful fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Season cut side of eggplant with paprika and salt. Arrange cut-side down on foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 25 minutes. Set aside and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar and 1 Tbsp olive oil, then add tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste and mix.
While eggplant roasts, combine pine nuts, ground beef, Za'atar, chopped parsley, and half of garlic in a bowl. Shape into meatballs to make the koftas. Season generously with salt and pepper and with hands, combine well. Form into 8–10 2" cylinders.
Next up is the baba ghanoush. After eggplant cools a bit, scrape out flesh and transfer to food processor or blender, discarding skin. Add remaining garlic, juice of lemons, and tahini paste. Blend and while motor is running add 4 Tbsp olive oil until smooth and combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is simmering, add koftas and cook until browned on outside and medium inside, about 2–3 minutes per side. Note: don't overload pan, cook in batches if you have to.
Add mint leaves to the bowl with tomatoes and toss to coat. Add a few dollops of baba ghanoush on plate, lay kaftas over the baba ghanoush, and serve with tomato salad on side and enjoy.
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