Roasted Eggplant with Ricotta, Hazelnuts, and Spicy Herb Sauce

Salty, creamy, tangy, crunchy, spicy… this dish has it all! The sauce is a very slightly modified version of zhoug, an absolutely delicious yemeni condiment. Serve it as an app with crusty bread, or pile it on a sandwich for a super satiating lunch. Don’t like eggplant? Sub zucchini, cauliflower, or even asparagus! No matter what, it’s incredibly easy and classy AF. Want it vegan? Make some cashew ricotta instead!

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side


For the spicy herb sauce: 

  • ½ jalapeno 
  • ½ cup packed cilantro leaves and stems 
  • ¼ cup mint
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • ¼ tsp cardamom 
  • ½ tsp cumin 
  • ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tbs lemon juice 
  • ¼ tsp aleppo chili flakes
  • ¼-⅓ cup olive oil

For everything else:

  • 4 small italian or japanese eggplants, about 1 pound
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup ricotta
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted

For the spicy herb sauce 

  1. Place everything except for the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms. 
  2. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and run until a chunky sauce forms. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed. Add more oil if needed to reach your desired consistency.

For everything else: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, then one more time lengthwise to form spears. Spread out on a baking sheet and salt the flesh generously with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. 
  1. While you sweat your eggplants, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, and a solid pinch of salt in a small bowl. Set aside. 
  2. After 20 minutes, your eggplants should have released a decent amount of liquid. Use a towel to pat the eggplant dry. Coat the eggplant in olive oil, and season with additional salt and pepper. 
  3. Roast the eggplant until the skin is crackly and the flesh is very tender, about 25-30 minutes. 
  4. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool. 
  5. Spread the ricotta along the bottom of the plate and top with your eggplant and hazelnuts. Drizzle on the sauce. 

Serve with crusty bread or piled on a sandwich