These eggplant kebabs are marinated and grilled, tucked into a pita, and smothered with a tangy garlic sauce and assorted veggies. It just happens to be vegan although if you don’t mention it, folks, the meat-eaters among you may forget.
Having a barbecue? Ditch the heavy meat skewers for something a bit lighter but just as flavorful. Just imagine – you’re chilling outside with a glass of rosé, listening to some Bob Marley tunes, and then bam!—you’re enjoying a delicious medley of summer’s finest veggies in grilled, portable flatbread form. Marinated eggplant takes minutes to grill, before being tucked into a flatbread filled with hummus, avocado, more veggies, and a sweet garlic sauce.–Nina Olsson
- 8 to 16 wooden skewers
For the marinated eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 medium eggplants unpeeled and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) chunks
For the garlic sauce
- 2 avocados diced
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 3 1/2 ounces green or purple cabbage shredded
- 3 1/2 ounces cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 about 6 oz red pepper cut into strips
- 2 1/4 cups baby spinach
- A handful fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, and parsley, coarsely chopped
- A handful of toasted almonds or other nuts
- 4 flatbreads
- Store-bought or homemade hummus
- Store-bought or homemade harissa
- Lemon wedges for squeezing
Marinate the eggplant
- In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add the eggplant to the bowl with the marinade, and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
- While the eggplant is marinating, fill a shallow dish with water and place the wooden skewers in it to soak.
Make the garlic sauce
- Using an immersion blender or a small food processor, process all the ingredients until well combined.
☞TESTER TIP: If you don’t have an immersion blender or small food processor, first mash the garlic and salt with a fork or the flat side of a chef's knife to form a paste, then scrape it into a bowl and whisk in the remaining ingredients.
Grill the eggplant kebabs
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill until hot. Alternatively, heat a grill pan on the stovetop over high heat.
- Thread the eggplant onto skewers, using about 8 chunks per skewer.
- Grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on the outside and tender inside, 6 to 12 minutes total. If using a grill pan, slick the pan with a little oil prior to cooking.
Assemble the eggplant kebabs for serving
- Serve the eggplant kebabs along with the flatbreads and desired serving options. Let everyone fashion their own creation. Any remaining ingredients can be served on the side as salad.
*What can I substitute for harissa?As far as the level of heat goes, sambal olek is a great substitution. However, harissa has lots of ingredients, it isn’t just heat. You can use something hot, like a sambal or Sriracha or chile paste but you might want to add a pinch of caraway to add that harissa-like flavor.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is a perfect combination of flavors: a spicy eggplant kebab and a fresh salad, the strong flavor of harissa, the smooth hummus, all this in a soft flatbread. Healthy and delicious food, with simple ingredients, and so easy to prepare. It took 10 minutes to get charred eggplant that was tender inside.
These eggplant kebabs came together really easily. I used 4 small globe eggplants and the marinade was just the right amount to nicely coat all of the pieces. I let them stand for about 4 hours just because I made it in the afternoon. I don't have an immersion blender and the volume of the garlic sauce was too little for my blender to emulsify it properly. For others without an immersion blender I'd suggest making a paste with fresh garlic and salt and stirring that through some yogurt.
The salad of serving ingredients was delicious and crunchy and fresh. I think it could do with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing though. The flavor of the eggplant kebabs was nice but for the second batch I added a little more oil to give the spices some moisture to help them cook through. The skewers with the added oil were much more delicious.
I cooked them for closer to 6 minutes on the stovetop to get some nice char and softness in the middle. They continue to soften after you take them off, so best not to leave them longer. We had 4 generous servings, especially with the salad, garlic sauce, and hummus. I used the hummus recipe on this site which was perfect. I also made my own harissa. On the whole, totally delicious and will definitely make these eggplant kebabs again.
Originally published June 24, 2019