Eggplants, tomatoes, and a smoky red sauce — these are like nachos without the chips, if you will. The crispy eggplant tastes deep-fried, yet they're baked. They are incredibly soft on the inside with little salty crunches of cornmeal on the outside. The flavors of this harissa tomato sauce works wonders with this yummy snack.
Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Eggplant With Smoky Harissa [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Eggplant:
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 3 cups almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice
- 1 cup fine ground cornmeal
- A good pinch of sea salt
- Olive oil
For the Smoky Harissa Tomato Sauce:
- 3-4 large field tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 small shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon harissa, or more/less depending on desired heat
- 1 roasted red pepper, homemade or storebought
- Chopped flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro, to garnish
- Cut the eggplant into wedges. Place them in a large bowl and cover them with milk. Leave to soak for at least an hour to draw out the bitterness.
- Turn the broiler onto to medium-high and position your oven rack in the middle of the oven. Roughly quarter the tomatoes and shallots and peel the garlic.
- Place everything on a rimmed baking sheet and add smoked paprika, a good pinch of sea salt and drizzle with olive oil, about a tablespoon. Place under broiler until slightly charred and bubbly, about 15 minutes. If your broiler gets too hot, turn it off and finish the tomatoes at 425°F. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Take the pieces of the roasted shallot, garlic, and about 1/3 of the charred tomatoes and place in a small blender. Add the roasted red pepper and harissa and blend until smooth. Roughly chopped the remaining tomatoes and place in a bowl.
- Add the blended ingredients to the chopped tomatoes and stir. Taste and adjust for seasoning/spice.
- Heat the oven to 425°F for the eggplant. Mix the cornmeal with the sea salt in a shallow bowl. Remove a wedge of eggplant from the milk and coat in polenta mixture. Turn a couple of times to make sure they are well coated, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat for all eggplant wedges.
- Brush the top side of the eggplant with olive oil and bake for about 12 minutes or until crispy, then flip, brush the top side with olive oil, and return to bake for another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with harissa sauce and fresh flat leaf parsley.
- Although best out of the oven, eggplant will heat up nicely the following day. Bake at 400°F for about 10 minutes.