I’ve been challenging myself to eat less meat lately, and this harissa chickpea skillet makes it so easy! The meatiness of the eggplant and mushrooms paired with some kick from the harissa paste (watch out!) make for a super flavorful and satisfying meal. As an added bonus, the flavors are even better the next day, so it’s perfect for vegetarian meal prep.
What is harissa?
If you’ve never heard of harissa before, prepare yourself for a flavor explosion! It’s a paste made from hot red chilis, garlic, coriander, caraway and cumin, found commonly in North African cooking. It’s still a bit of a boutique item, but I’ve had good luck with the Trader Joe’s version (god bless TJ’s!). Consider yourself warned though, it has some serious spice that will light your tastebuds on fire in the most delicious way.
If you’re not into spicy foods, I’d recommend halving the amount in the recipe. You can always taste at the end and add more if you can tolerate it. Another totally acceptable substitution would be to use tomato paste with a 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and caraway.
how to meal prep this Harissa Chickpea skillet
Like a good curry or chili, the flavors are even better the next day, making it perfect to meal prep for lunch. I like to serve mine with a side of brown rice or quinoa to help soak up the delicious sauce, but pita bread would also be great. I’m always trying to sneak more greens into my diet, and I found that kale, spinach, and arugula all work lovely with the flavors here.
Can you freeze it? You bet! As long as you’re making it, might as well bust out a double batch so you can keep some on hand for the future. If you’re a cheese lover like me, do yourself a favor and top it with a little crumbled feta while you’re at it.
KEY POINTERS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE LIKE A PRO
There are a few things to point out that will help you execute this recipe like a true pro.
- With eggplant, it’s important to salt it ahead of time in order to remove some of the bitter flavor and also so it absorbs less oil during cooking. It seems like an excessive amount of salt but keep in mind you’ll give it a quick rinse before sautéing. You don’t need to peel the eggplant either FYI.
- Not an eggplant or mushroom fan? No worries! Try cauliflower, bell peppers or zucchini instead! Think cilantro tastes like soap? Parsley or basil would shine in this recipe.
- Just like with mushrooms, don’t overcrowd the pan when sautéing the eggplant. If your pan isn’t quite big enough, it may take two batches the properly caramelize them.
- Don’t skip adding the lemon juice and fresh herbs at the end. They are what make all the flavors sing!
Harissa Chickpea Skillet with Eggplant and Mushrooms
- 1 whole eggplant
- 2 tbsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 whole shallots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 12 oz can chickpeas
- 1 12 oz can fired roasted crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup feta cheese for serving (optional)
- Cut off the stem of the eggplant and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Plae them in a colander in the sink and season them with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, rinse the salt off the cubed eggplant and dry thoroughly with a towel.
- Heat a wide skillet over medium heat with 1/4 cup of olive oil or avocado oil.
- Working in batches, saute the eggplant til golden brown, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
- If needed, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, and add the shallots and mushrooms. Saute until both are lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the harissa paste, cumin, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, chickpeas, and cooked eggplant to the pan. Stir until paste and spices coat the ingredients evenly.
- Add the canned tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pan and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the stock has reduced and you have a thick sauce.
- Taste for seasoning and add extra salt or harissa if needed. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and fresh chopped cilantro to serve.
- If freezing, make sure to let the ingredients completely cool before transferring to a container with lid or ziplock and freezing.
- Serve with a side of quinoa, rice or cauliflower rice and greens such as kale or spinach. Top with feta or goat cheese.
- Without cheese, this dish is vegan and gluten-free. Just be sure and check your harissa paste to make sure it’s GF as well.