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This roasted harissa eggplant is the perfect vegetarian side dish. It's a Middle Eastern-inspired recipe, with a slightly spicy harissa sauce, balanced with feta cheese and pistachios.
Roast eggplant is such a hearty and meaty vegetable, making it all the more satisfying with a little heat from the harissa, balanced with the creamy goat cheese.
It really is the perfect vegetarian side dish!
What is harissa?
Before committing to this recipe, you might be curious about harissa if you've never cooked with it before.
This is a chili pepper paste with North African roots. It's used to add heat and a red pop of color to dishes like sauces, marinades, soups, and dips like hummus. It typically consists of ingredients such as chilies, garlic, citrus, and spices like cumin, caraway, and paprika.
Harissa paste is widely available in grocery stores or you can make your own (which allows you to control how spicy it is.)
How spicy is harissa paste?
Harissa paste is peppery, smoky, and garlicky. It can add heat to any dish. Depending on the brand that you purchase (or if you've made harissa from scratch) it can vary in spiciness.
We use a brand called Mina Harissa, which comes in mild and spicy versions. Their mild version is perfect if you don't want to add too much heat to this harissa eggplant recipe.\
If you don't have harissa on hand, you can substitute for garlic chili sauce, some sriracha, or hot sauce to give the eggplant some heat.
Here's what you'll need to make harissa eggplant:
For the eggplant:
- Eggplants: Cut 2 eggplants into quarters, cut lengthwise.
- Olive oil: Use the olive oil to brush on to the eggplant before you pop them in the oven to roast.
- Sea Salt: Add a little salt to the eggplant to help bring out and complement its flavor in the oven.
For the creamy harissa sauce:
- Goat cheese: Add 2 good tablespoons of goat cheese to the sauce to create a creamy, rich texture.
- Harissa paste: You can add as much or as little harissa paste as you wish. It's recommended to use 1-2 tablespoons – but you do you!
- Olive oil: 1 tablespoon of olive oil will help mellow the spice from the harissa, plus it helps create a sauce you can brush all over your eggplants.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Just a ½ teaspoon adds a tart, smoky flavor to the sauce.
- Garlic: Finely mince 1 clove of garlic to add some zest to the sauce.
- Pistachios: Shell and finely chop the nuts. You'll add them on top once you've brushed the eggplant with the creamy harissa sauce for a bit of crunch and nutty flavor.
- Garnish: Cilantro is the perfect garnish for eggplant harissa, since it adds a bright, fresh element to the side dish.
How to make harissa eggplant
Time needed: 40 minutes
- Prepare & roast the eggplant:
Place the eggplant skin side down on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes.
- Prepare the creamy harissa sauce:
In a small bowl, mix the harissa, goat cheese, olive oil, balsamic, and garlic.
- Brush the eggplant and serve immediately:
Once the eggplants are cooked, brush them with the creamy harissa sauce and sprinkle on the pistachios. Then garnish and enjoy!
What to seve with harissa eggplant
What type of eggplant should I use for harissa eggplant?
This recipe was tested using globe eggplant/American eggplant (you may call them aubergines in the UK).
What can I use instead of harissa paste?
You can substitute for garlic chili sauce, some sriracha, or hot sauce. Even spicy tomato sauce will work!
What should I use instead of the goat cheese?
You can add some plain yogurt, feta cheese, tahini, or cashew butter to achieve that creamy texture instead of using goat cheese.
- 2 large eggplants (cut in half lengthwise, then in half again)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the eggplant slices, skin side down, on the baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the eggplants in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until they are soft and brown.2 large eggplants, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- While the eggplants are roasting, prepare the creamy harissa sauce. In a small bowl, mix the harissa, goat cheese, olive oil, balsamic, and garlic.2 tablespoons goat cheese, 1-2 tablespoons harissa paste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 1 clove garlic
- When you pull the eggplants out of the oven, use a spoon to brush the tops with the creamy harissa sauce and sprinkle the pistachios over the top. Garnish with a little cilantro, if you'd like. Serve immediately.¼ cup shelled pistachios, Cilantro
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.