Food & dining

A vegetarian meal of grilled eggplant with bold harissa mayo and peppery arugula on pita

Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe

Serves 4

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.

cup mayonnaise
1tablespoon harissa, or more to taste
3 or 4 baby eggplants (about 1½ pounds), cut lengthwise into -inch planks
3tablespoons olive oil
½teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
4small pita breads (5 inches across)
cups baby arugula
12cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¼small red onion, thinly sliced
2teaspoons 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.

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3. In another bowl, combine eggplant, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss well.

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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

Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at kboehmgoodnick@gmail.com.