Happy October, friends! We officially made it to pumpkin season (yay!), and everything else that’s wonderful about this time of year.
Do you have any exciting plans this month? Are you visiting a pumpkin patch, an apple orchard, or making all of the pies? I hope so.
This month is an exciting one for us as we’re traveling to Europe with friends. We’ll be visiting Greece, Croatia, and Poland, as well as a couple cities for brief stopovers (follow along on Instagram!). I’m rather excited, as Greece has been one of countries I’ve been wanting to visit for years now (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, anyone?).
I hope it’s dreamy and beautiful and everything I’ve imagined it to be. If not, we’ll at least eat lots of yummy food and come home with new experiences and stories.
Speaking of travel, this dip is inspired by a recent trip we took to Seattle.
We met a new friend to explore the city’s food scene and, of all the dishes we shared, I must say the smoky eggplant dip we had at a little wine bar was my favorite.
One bite of this creamy, smoky, deep red eggplant dip and I was hooked. I asked the waiter about the ingredients (as I often do), and I tried to make mental note of everything he said.
Once I got home, I started experimenting and it only took me a couple of tries to nail it! I’m super pleased with the results and hope you will be, too.
This dip is not only extremely delicious, it’s also quite simple to make, requiring just 9 ingredients and about 1 hour to prepare.
If you’ve tried any of my other eggplant dishes (the Persian Eggplant Dip, Simple Baba Ganoush, Caramelized Onion Mac n Cheese, or Cashew-less Vegan Queso), you’re familiar with my go-to cooking method of slicing, salting to remove bitterness, and then roasting. I’ve found it’s the best way to get that roasted, smoky flavor without cooking your eggplant over an open flame (which is ideal for those of us without a fire pit or gas stove).
Next comes smoked paprika, roasted garlic for depth of flavor and a little heat, some lemon juice to bring brightness and acidity, and harissa paste – the key ingredient.
What is Harissa Paste?
Harissa is a hot chili paste that originated in Tunisia, North Africa. It is commonly used as a dip or marinade, or to add vibrant red color and smoky heat to dishes like stews and sauces. Chili peppers were originally imported to Tunisia in the 16th century during the Spanish occupation, and shortly thereafter harissa quickly became a staple part of Tunisian (and Middle Eastern) cuisine (source).
We hope you all love this dip. It’s:
& Perfect for fall
This dip is best served with toasted pita chips or whole grain bread to offset the creaminess, though vegetables are a great gluten-free option as well. Make this dip as an appetizer for fall parties, a healthy snack, or even to use as a sandwich spread.
If you do give it a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram. We love it when you do.
Lastly, if you have any recipe suggestions, leave them in the comments! I’d especially love to hear fall and holiday requests, as well as any dishes you’ve enjoyed while traveling that you’d love for me to recreate. Cheers, friends!
Smoky Harissa Eggplant Dip
- 1 medium or large eggplant
- 4 cloves garlic (skin on)
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for roasting eggplant + garlic)
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1 lemon, juiced (1 lemon yields ~2 Tbsp or 30 ml)
- 1 pinch each salt and black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 2-3 tsp harissa paste* (to taste)
- 1-2 tsp smoked paprika (to taste)
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
FOR SERVING optional
- Pita or toasted pita chips
- Fresh mint
- Chopped walnuts
- Vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
- Slice your eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds and sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Place in a colander in the sink to drain any excess liquid and draw out the eggplant’s bitterness for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, place garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Bake for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven and add walnuts to the baking sheet. Bake both for 7-8 more minutes, or until the walnuts are fragrant and the garlic is light golden brown. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
- After draining eggplant for 30 minutes, lightly rinse with cool water. Place between two absorbent towels and set something heavy on top – such as a baking sheet topped with a cast iron skillet – to help draw out any excess liquid.
- Heat oven to high broil and position a rack at the top of the oven.
- Arrange eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roast for 4-5 minutes on each side or until the eggplant is deep golden brown (see photo).
- Remove from pan, stack and wrap loosely in foil to lock in moisture – wait 5 minutes.
- Peel your roasted garlic and add to the food processor or blender. Also add toasted walnuts, lemon juice, a pinch each salt and pepper, harissa paste, smoked paprika, 1 Tbsp olive oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size), and maple syrup or coconut sugar. Mix/pulse until creamy and smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a bit more harissa paste for heat and another pinch of salt. Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) for extra creaminess. Mix/pulse again to combine.
- Garnish with fresh mint, walnuts and a pinch more paprika (optional).
- This dip is best served with toasted pita chips or whole-grain bread to offset the creaminess, though vegetables are a great gluten-free option as well. Best when fresh.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional toppings.