Eggplant is a wonderfully nutritious ingredient that is also filling enough to be the main ingredient of a dish, but people tend to either love it or hate it. The taste and texture can vary greatly between varieties and preparations. In Hawaii the Japanese eggplant is widely available, which is smaller, has a thinner, more tender skin and sweeter flesh than the more common globe eggplant. If you can't find the Japanese eggplant variety, try to pick smaller (younger) eggplants.
Whatever eggplant variety you use, this is an easy way to cook eggplant to perfection with a ton of flavor. Harissa is a North African sauce made of roasted hot chilis, garlic, spices and oil. Combined with the sweetness of Wilelaiki honey, the creaminess of roasted eggplant and the coolness of tangy yogurt, this roasted eggplant appetizer or side dish is sure to satisfy your tastebuds.
- 2 eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise (leave the stems on just for presentation)
- 2 Tbsp harissa paste
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Wilelaiki honey
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the Yogurt:
- 1/2 cup unflavored nondairy yogurt (or use traditional yogurt, but you may want to add a tsp of sugar)
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp za’atar
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Mix together the harissa, honey, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and olive oil. Pour into the bottom of a baking dish.
- Score the flesh of the eggplants in a diagonal hash pattern (make the cuts deep but not slicing all the way through). Place the eggplant cut-side down on top of the marinade in the baking dish - make sure the cut sides are completely covered in the marinade.
- Let the eggplants marinate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 390°F.
- Cut two large pieces of parchment paper - big enough to wrap 2 halves of eggplant. Place 2 eggplant halves, cut-side up, in the center of a piece of parchment. Create a little packet by bringing the corners of the parchment together and twisting them to seal. Repeat with the other eggplant. Place the packets on a baking sheet. Reserve any marinade left in the baking dish.
- Bake the eggplants in the parchment for 20 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven. Open up the packets, and brush the tops of the eggplant with the reserved marinade. Replace the baking sheet in the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir together the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, za’atar, cumin, and salt. Set aside.
- Remove the eggplants from the oven when the flesh is very soft and the skin can be pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly before serving. Top with the yogurt sauce and some chopped cilantro.