These vegan Middle Eastern-Inspired Roasted Eggplant are tender, flavorful, and can be enjoyed as both a main or starter!
My husband grew up eating a lot of eggplant in Albania but I didn’t really have much eggplant until we met and I moved to California, where eggplant is abundant and available most of the year. It just wasn’t available where I grew up in Nova Scotia, or it was astronomically expensive and definitely imported. Now, I guess I’m making up for lost time. Cue all the eggplant recipes!
This recipe is a great addition to your holiday menu. It’s a lovely way to incorporate a vegan dish into the mix and something lighter to balance out all the heavy classics.
I enjoyed this Middle Eastern-Inspired Roasted Eggplant for lunch this week and served with freshly-baked bread to soak up all the saucy goodness! You could also add in a side salad or a rice pilaf to make it a heartier meal. Either way, this recipe should be added to your repertoire!
Middle Eastern-Inspired Roasted Eggplant
- 1 paring knife to score the eggplant
- 1 baking sheet
- paper towel or clean kitchen towel
- 1 medium bowl
- 1 whisk
- 1 small frying pan
- 1 Globe eggplant 1-2 lb
- 4-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil depending on how large the eggplant is
- 2 tsp kosher salt for salting the eggplant
- 3 tbsp pomegranate arils
- 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 1 tbsp Italian parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp date syrup for drizzling; may sub honey or pomegranate molasses
- ½ cup tahini Ethopian is my favorite
- 2 tbsp lemon juice about ½ lemon
- 1 garlic clove
- kosher salt to taste; a generous pinch
- water to dilute the sauce
- Wash the outside of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in half length-wise. Score the eggplant with a paring knife. To do so, slice the inner side of the eggplant diagonally, then slice across in the opposite direction, making a diamond pattern. Be sure not to slice deep enough to pierce the skin. Scoring the eggplant will help it cook evenly and allows the heat to permeate the eggplant and develop a richer-roasted flavor. Sprinkle salt over each eggplant half, being careful that you're reaching all the nooks and crannies. Set aside, flesh side up, and leave on the counter to rest for 30 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 400° F and set a rack to the middle position.
- Take the eggplant halves over to the sink. One by one, flip each eggplant half over and gently squeeze then shake; you'll see water dripping from the eggplant. Pat to dry with paper towel or a clean kitchen towel.
- Drizzle or brush 2-3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil on each eggplant half. Try to get in between the diagonal cuts and rub on the skin as well. Place eggplant on the baking sheet flesh side up. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the eggplant begins to brown and soften.
- While the eggplant is roasting, let's make the sauce. Stir the tahini to make sure the solids and liquids are well-combined before we measure it out. Add the tahini to a medium-sized bowl. Season with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt, minced garlic, and fresh lemon juice. Whisk together, while thinning out the sauce with 1 tbsp of water at a time. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed.
- Add pine nuts to a small-dry skillet and turn heat to medium-low. Cook, while stirring and tossing occasionally, until pine nuts are golden brown and smell quite nutty, about 2-4 minutes.
- When the eggplant is soft and starting to brown on top, remove from the oven. Spoon the tahini sauce overtop and sprinkle with pomegranate, pine nuts, and parsley. Finish with a drizzle of date syrup.