Pita bread is often stuffed with spiced, shaved shwarma meat, or crunchy, deep-fried falafel. But my version of a pita sandwich is a hearty, vegetarian alternative to a meat-stuffed pita, inspired by the anything-but-ordinary stuffed pita sandwiches of Miznon, from iconic Israeli chef Eyal Shani.
Eggplant is a very common ingredient in Israeli and Middle Eastern cooking. After all, it is meaty, delicious, versatile, and can cook up quickly — ideal for weeknight meals. I serve these sandwiches with spicy pickled cabbage, just like they do at the shwarma shops, along with yogurt and chopped parsley for some bright freshness.
Note: You can make each element of the pitas a day ahead and stuff the pitas when you’re ready to enjoy (reheat the eggplants for a minute in the microwave before serving).
For the eggplant steaks:
- 5 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthways into 5-6 1 inch-thick slices
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp shwarma spice
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
For the parsley salad:
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley, washed and dried, very finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- ½ clove garlic, crushed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- a pinch of sea salt
For the pickled cabbage:
- ¼ white or red cabbage, stem removed and very finely sliced
- juice of 2 lemons
- ½ tsp dried chili flakes
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp olive oil
- 2 pieces of fluffy pita bread
- 4 Tbsp plain yogurt, or Greek yogurt
- Brush the eggplants generously with olive oil.
- Heat a large frying pan and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the eggplant slices to the pan. Make sure each piece is touching the surface of the pan; you may need to work in batches. Once the bottom sides have softened and become golden, turn them over. Add a little more oil if necessary. Press down on the slices with a spatula or wooden spoon to help them cook through. Transfer the eggplant onto a paper towel to remove the excess oil.
- To make the parsley salad, combine the chopped parsley with the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
- Combine the sliced cabbage with the lemon juice, sea salt, chili flakes, and olive oil and mix well. Set aside so it softens and pickles.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the same pan that you used for the eggplants and add the garlic. Once it becomes slightly golden and aromatic, add the tomato paste and mix to soften it. Add a pinch of sea salt, the honey, shwarma spice, and chili powder. Add ½ cup water and mix until you have a silky consistency.
- Add the cooked eggplant slices back into the sauce, coating them on all sides. Leave each piece to slightly caramelize, turning them over once the bottoms are slightly sticky and browning, about 2 minutes on each side.
- To serve, warm the pitas in the microwave for 30 seconds or in the oven for three minutes. Cut the tops off the pitas (don’t discard them!) and stuff each one with some cabbage, 2.5 eggplant steaks, a few spoons of yogurt, and finally the parsley salad. Enjoy the extra pickled cabbage, yogurt, and parsley salad with the leftover pita tops.