Harissa-Roasted Eggplant With Fried Capers
Think of capers as plant-based anchovies—they’re salty with a unique acidity, and are the secret weapon in this savory-sweet roasted eggplant. Capers infiltrate every layer of this dish: They’re chopped and mixed into a spicy harissa rub for the eggplant; mixed with cherry preserves for a salty-meets-sweet dressing; and roasted for a crispy-crunchy topping that adds pops of flavor.
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cup harissa paste, preferably hot
Tbsp. drained capers, divided
cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
medium Japanese eggplants or 2 large globe eggplants (about 2 lb.), halved lengthwise
Tbsp. cherry or other fruit preserves
cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Tbsp. coarsely chopped dill
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 425°. Blend garlic, harissa, 4 Tbsp. capers, and ¾ cup oil in a blender until a loose paste forms (a few chunkier pieces are okay); season with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, finely chop garlic and capers and mix well with harissa and oil in a small bowl.) Transfer ¼ cup paste to a small bowl and set aside.
Score cut sides of eggplant flesh in a crosshatch pattern, being sure to stop before cutting through the skin below. Rub 1 Tbsp. paste remaining in blender evenly over each cut side of eggplant so entire surface is covered. Toss remaining 2 Tbsp. capers and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl until capers are coated. Arrange eggplant, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving a little room on one side for capers; season with salt and pepper. Spread out capers in oil in a single layer in reserved space on baking sheet; set bowl aside.
Roast eggplant and capers, keeping a close eye on capers, until capers are sizzling and slightly crisp, 8–10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and transfer capers back to reserved bowl. Return eggplant to oven and continue to roast until tender, 10–12 minutes more for Japanese, 20–25 for globe. Let eggplant cool slightly, then slice in half crosswise on a diagonal.
Mix cherry preserves into reserved paste in bowl. Mix yogurt and lemon juice in another small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper.
Arrange eggplant on a platter. Spoon lemon yogurt over, then drizzle harissa-cherry sauce on top. Scatter roasted capers, dill, and lemon zest evenly over eggplant.