Shawarma eggplant is a satisfying plant-based dish that has all the spices and flavors of your favorite grilled meat. This vegetarian main is versatile and customizable, and can be prepared in advance, making it ideal for hosting. A slather of Michael Solomonv’s herbaceous, spicy Yemenite zhug on top adds necessary zing and heat. For a little extra protein, drizzle the roasted eggplant with tahini, serve it on a swirl of labneh or add roasted chickpeas on top.
Olive oil is eggplant’s best friend, making it satisfyingly rich. First you’ll brush oil onto the eggplant before it’s roasted, then drizzle it mid-bake, and again when it comes out of the oven. Crusted with spices, the eggplant emerges from the oven browned and fork-tender. You can swap the homemade shawarma spice blend with your favorite store-bought mix; and if you’re not an eggplant fan, you can swap it for thick-cut cauliflower steaks or large zucchini and summer squash.
For the shawarma spice blend:
- 1½ tsp ground coriander
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- 1½ tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper (optional)
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
For the eggplant:
- 3 large eggplants (2½-3 lb)
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- salt, as needed
- chopped parsley, mint or cilantro, to garnish
- Start by slicing your eggplants in half from top to bottom. Score the eggplant diagonally in a crosshatch pattern, slicing toward the bottom without piercing all the way through. Generously salt, then rub salt into the scored eggplant halves. Let the eggplants sit while the oven preheats and you prep the rest of the ingredients, at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- For the shawarma spice blend, whisk everything together in a small bowl. Alternatively use 3 Tbsp of your favorite shawarma spice blend, and add the brown sugar to the blend.
- Once the oven is preheated and the eggplant has rested, pat the tops of the eggplant dry, then brush each half of the eggplant with oil until the entire ¼ cup of oil is absorbed evenly.
- Rub about 1½ tsp of the spice blend into each of the six eggplant halves. Top with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Roast the eggplant for 30 minutes, then drizzle with more oil. Roast for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until deep golden brown and completely tender. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven and the size of the eggplant; begin to check for doneness after 40 minutes.
- While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the zhug, if desired.
- Drizzle the eggplant with oil just prior to serving, and garnish with fresh herbs. Eggplant can be made in advance, stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a covered baking dish until warm.