To make a bold sauce for grilled eggplant, start with mayo and stir in harissa, the bright-red North African pepper paste that comes both spicy and mild (available at specialty grocers). Grilled pita rounds hold slices of grilled eggplant and a lightly dressed arugula salad. Many Middle Eastern cooks use ground sumac to give salads a citrus-like zip. Sprinkle each open-faced salad with a pinch, if you like. Serve with a fork and knife or let guests roll up their sandwiches — and risk wearing their dinner.
|1||tablespoon harissa, or more to taste|
|3||or 4 baby eggplants (about 1½ pounds), cut lengthwise into ⅓-inch planks|
|3||tablespoons olive oil|
|½||teaspoon ground cumin|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|4||small pita breads (5 inches across)|
|2½||cups baby arugula|
|12||cherry or grape tomatoes, halved|
|¼||small red onion, thinly sliced|
|2||teaspoons lemon juice|
|Sumac (for sprinkling, optional)|
1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium high heat.
2. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and harissa; set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine eggplant, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss well.
4. Transfer eggplant to the grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes on a side, or until the eggplant is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Transfer to a cutting board. Set pita rounds on the grill and cook 1 minute on a side, or until starting to brown.
5. Cut the eggplant into long strips.
6. In a bowl, toss arugula, tomatoes, red onion, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper.
7. Place 1 pita bread on each of 4 plates. Spread harissa-mayonnaise on each round. Top with eggplant and arugula salad. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac, if you like.
Karoline Boehm Goodnick