Eggplant-Harissa Sandwiches With Tahini

September  9, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger, prop styling by Suzie Myers, food styling by Ericka Martins
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves Makes 6 sandwiches
Author Notes

I have a deep love of condiments. Mustard obviously. Mayo controversially. Ketchup has its place. While the word "condiment" evokes the line of bottles on the counter of a hot dog cart, the world of condiments is broad. I find condiments moving in and out of my life depending on the season—winter relishes of parsley, lemon, and pine nuts replaces summer basil pesto, for example. Then there are those who stick around all year. My current favorite is harissa, the deeply flavorful, often spicy, pepper relish originating in North Africa. It adds a spicy-sweet richness to just about anything from boiled rice, grilled fish, and roasted vegetables. It loves to be paired with a cooling slick of yogurt or tahini.

The recipe below will make more harissa than any one sandwich can absorb, but that’s on purpose. There’s no real point in making a single serving of harissa. It takes a bit of time, and it stores beautifully, so make a big batch and store in your fridge indefinitely. I tend to leave mine out on the counter and haven’t died yet, but per health regulations, one should store it in the fridge. Like everything in this world, you’ll have to assess the amount of risk you’re willing to take on and balance it against the ease of not having to walk to the refrigerator.

These sandwiches are good hot, the eggplant having just jumped from the pan to the bread, or room temperature, made and wrapped up to bring to the beach or on a picnic. They even last until the next day, though I would refrigerate them in that case. Remember that refrigerated bread always tastes mediocre at best, so allow to come back to room temperature before eating.

I’ve left cheese off this sandwich because I like it without it, but I also like it with a thick slab of fresh mozzarella or a schmear of goat cheese. If you have some on hand, add it if it sounds good. Don’t make a special trip to the store. —abraberens

What You'll Need
  • Harissa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 chipotle or guajillo chiles (dried or canned), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 roasted piquillo peppers (fresh or canned), thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Eggplant and Assembly
  • 2 large globe eggplant (about 2½ pounds)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise
  • 4 ounces arugula
  1. Harissa
  2. In a heavy frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil for 30 to 60 seconds, until shimmering but not smoking. Remove from the heat. If you’re using dried, not canned, chiles, add them now, along with the fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds. Toast, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  3. Add the peppers, garlic, vinegar, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, salt, and the canned chiles if you’re using those and stir to combine. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chile mixture to a food processor (or you can use an immersion blender). Purée, adding a splash of water if needed to loosen, until a thick paste forms. If needed, return the harissa to the pan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, to reduce to the desired consistency.
  1. Eggplant and Assembly
  2. Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplant into ½-inch-thick rounds. Coat with oil and season with a couple pinches of salt.
  3. Arrange the eggplant on a foil- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Remove the eggplant from the oven. Pour the tahini over, then let set for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Toast the rolls and schmear the cut sides with the harissa. Divide the eggplant among the rolls, top with the arugula, and cover the sandwiches. Eat while warm or wrap in foil and enjoy on the go.

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Abra Berens is a chef, author, and former vegetable farmer. She started cooking at Zingerman's Deli, trained at Ballymaloe in Cork, Ireland. Find her at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, MI. Her first two cookbooks Ruffage and Grist are out now. The third Pulp: a practical guide to cooking with fruit publishes on April 4th, 2023.

1 Review

BellaRasa August 24, 2022
I'm a big fan of harissa while my husband favors tahini, so it was a great combination of both. I used left over grilled eggplant, and the sandwich was delicious. I can't wait to make it again!