One-Pan Harissa Eggplant, Pearl Couscous & Chickpeas

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 15 votes
One-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous and chickpeas is a hearty vegan dinner that comes together simply. Harissa paste brings a bit of spice to perfectly browned eggplant slices that sit on top of spiced pearl couscous, chickpeas, and spinach. Herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of non-dairy yogurt finish off this hearty vegan meal.
An overhead shot of one-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous, chickpeas, spinach, herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of vegan yogurt. The dish is shown in a cast iron braiser-style pot and a wooden spoon is sticking out.

We love a one and done vegan dinner situation! This one-pan harissa eggplant is a little spicy! It also has a gorgeously creamy texture thanks to a simple little prep step. I serve it with a pearl couscous and chickpea medley that’s flecked with plenty of chopped spinach, fresh herbs, and toasted pine nuts. I like to top this off with little dollops of plain vegan yogurt.

An up close, overhead shot of one-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous, chickpeas, spinach, herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of vegan yogurt.
An overhead shot shows an individual serving of pearl couscous and chickpeas with slices of harissa eggplant on top. The dish includes chopped spinach and herbs as well.
An overhead shot shows ingredients used in a one-pan harissa eggplant and pearl couscous dish.

Harissa is a spicy condiment made from hot peppers, oil, and spices, among other ingredients. It’s a beautiful match for meaty and silky eggplant. The paste is consumed widely in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Variations abound depending on region. You can read a bit more about harissa here.

How to make eggplant tender and not bitter:

  • In most of my eggplant recipes, I have you apply a generous amount of salt to the cut eggplant prior to cooking. Whether you’re cutting it into cubes, wedges or slices, we toss the eggplant with salt and let it sit in a colander in the sink for 20 minutes to an hour.
  • Applying the salt triggers osmosis, which means that the excess water will be coming out of the eggplant as it sits. With this water, a lot of bitterness comes out too!
  • Once the 20 minutes are up, you give the eggplant a quick rinse to rid it of excess salt. This process helps to season the vegetable from within.
  • We pat it dry thoroughly, really pressing the towel into the pieces—this helps to tenderize the eggplant.

Pearl couscous is a larger-sized, more chewy and toothsome variety of couscous. It is technically a type of pasta made from semolina flour and water. If you require a gluten-free substitution for this recipe, I recommend trying gluten-free orzo. As the pearl couscous plumps up in vegetable stock, shallots, and spices, it takes on those flavours and fills out the dish.

This vegan meal is pretty complete as-is, but if you’d like more veg, you could add up to a cup of small diced carrots, fennel, or zucchini with the shallots. Hope you love this easy-peasy one pot situation!

An overhead shot shows vegetable stock being added to a pot of chickpeas and pearl couscous.
A 3/4 angle shot shows pearl couscous, chickpeas, and spinach together in a pot. Lemon juice is being added to the mixture from a measuring cup.
An up close, overhead shot of one-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous, chickpeas, spinach, herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of vegan yogurt.

One-Pan Harissa Eggplant, Pearl Couscous & Chickpeas

One-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous and chickpeas is a hearty vegan dinner that comes together simply. Harissa paste brings a bit of spice to perfectly browned eggplant slices that sit on top of spiced pearl couscous, chickpeas, and spinach. Herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of non-dairy yogurt finish off this hearty vegan meal.
5 from 15 votes
An overhead shot of one-pan harissa eggplant with pearl couscous, chickpeas, spinach, herbs, pine nuts, and dollops of vegan yogurt. The dish is shown in a cast iron braiser-style pot and a wooden spoon is sticking out.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
RESTING TIME: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into rounds (mine weighed about 600 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus extra
  • ¼ cup harissa paste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 large shallot, small dice (about ½ cup diced shallot)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ cups dry pearl couscous
  • 19 oz (540 ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup leafy herbs, such as mint, parsley, cilantro, or a combination, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus zest for serving
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • plain unsweetened vegan yogurt, for serving

Notes

  • You want a large skillet or braiser with a tight fitting lid for this recipe.
  • For a gluten-free option, I would look to DeLallo’s gluten-free orzo to use in place of the pearl couscous. It might take a bit longer to cook!
  • I know it looks like a lot of salt for the eggplant! Most of it is getting rinsed off prior to cooking.
  • I like NY Shuk’s harissa quite a bit and definitely recommend it for this recipe.
  • My favourite vegan plain yogurts for savoury cooking are Yoggu, Cocoyo or Culina.

Instructions

  • Set a colander in the sink and place your eggplant rounds in it. Sprinkle eggplant with the tablespoon of salt and toss to coat. Let the eggplant sit for 20 minutes or up to an hour. I like to use this time to prep and measure the other ingredients.
  • After 20 minutes, rinse the eggplant slices thoroughly with cold water and then pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
  • Heat a large, deep skillet or braiser over medium-high heat. Add ½ the olive oil. Add as many eggplant slices that will fit in the skillet and cook until browned on one side, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices and brown on the other side. Brush the upward facing sides of the eggplant with harissa. Flip the pieces over and brush the other side. Transfer browned and harissa-brushed eggplant to a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining olive oil, eggplant, and harissa, adding more olive oil if necessary.
  • Once you’ve browned all the eggplant, we’ll start the couscous base. Add more olive oil if necessary and lower the heat to medium. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, and coriander and sauté for another minute. Add the couscous and toast for 2-3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, vegetable stock, Tamari, and ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Bring the couscous mixture to a boil and then simmer on low, covered, until all liquid is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and fold in the spinach, herbs, and lemon juice. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove the couscous mixture from the heat and place the slices of harissa eggplant on top. Garnish with lemon zest, the pine nuts, and dollops of plain vegan yogurt if you like. Serve immediately.
A 3/4 angle image shows an individual serving of pearl couscous and chickpeas with slices of harissa eggplant on top. The dish includes chopped spinach and herbs as well.
31/05/2023
Posted in: autumn, chickpeas, main course, pasta, refined sugar-free, salty, spicy, spring, summer, vegan, winter

8 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Nicola

    5 stars
    What a delicious combination! I made it with quinoa as I didn’t have the couscous and just had it cook for 15 minutes until tender. Very yummy! Will make again.

  • Ruthie

    5 stars
    wow – this is an amazing recipe! so easy even for a beginner cook. when i tasted it i couldn’t believe i had made something so delicious!! i agree with authors rec to get new york shuk harissa paste – i got the kind with preserved lemon from whole foods yum yum. if you have zatar seasoning you can add that when you add the other spices like cumin/coriander. i also added rubbed sage at that juncture and thought it was a good addition!
    thank you so much for sharing this recipe it was amazing i will definitely add it to my regular rotation!!!

  • Erin

    5 stars
    This was delicious! I agree with another commenter regarding the mint, it really makes the dish. Simple yet bursting with flavor.

  • Graeham

    5 stars
    Top tier. This recipe is so good. A bit spicy on the first go round so will tone back the harissa next time. Used all 3 herbs and the mint should not be left out. Yogurt was the perfect add to tone back the heat. Thank you!

  • Laura

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I’ve been very into pearled couscous lately. I love the combo of the harissa with the herbs and yoggu yogurt. Will definitely be making this again. I also partially cooked the eggplant in the oven to keep it warm and speed up the cooking :)

  • Susan

    5 stars
    YUM!!! This is a new fave in my house! The couscous base is brilliant! I threw my eggplant, brushed with olive oil and some salt, in the oven at 450 and then added the harissa once they were ready to flip. (Did this mostly because I don’t have a large enough pan, so would have had to do lots of batches). Seriously obsessed with your flavors. Thank you for all you share with us!

  • Nancy

    Hello, Laura ~
    I love your recipes! This one has me scratching my head. There was a time when “the spicery, the better,” but Nowadays, not so much as firey foods are off the menu for the two us – us vegans. No, I won’t ask for a substitute for Harissa! Just wanted you to know that many of us are peaked by this recipe, but for various reasons — cannot eat it. btw, we love, LOVE eggplant!!!