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Melitzanosalata Recipe

Melitzanosalata Recipe



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Arthur Bovino

Melitzanosalata

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. Melitzanosalata is a Greek eggplant dip to make on any day, bright or not. It's a really easy, zippy, quick dip — you can have it ready pretty quickly. You just need to account for the 45 minutes it takes to cook the eggplant.

Click here to see 9 Divine Greek Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the eggplants on a sheet tray or baking pan for about 45 minutes. Remove and peel off the skin (it should come off easily at this point).

Toss garlic, parsley, olive oil, and a teaspoon of salt in the food processor and pulse until it turns into a paste. Add eggplant, vinegar, and chopped tomatoes then pulse until well mixed. Season with pepper and eat with pita chips.


Melitzanosalata — Greek Eggplant Dip, Eggplant Caviar

Is there anything an eggplant can’t do? I’m in love with the vegetable simply grilled with a little olive oil and salt, stuffed with tomatoes and onions, or finessed with red sauce and cheese in eggplant parmesan, but my absolute favorite way to eat it is in this simple Greek dip: Melitzanosalata.

I always have a container of it in my refrigerator, especially during summer when eggplant is at its peak. I also love putting it on the menu for my Los Angeles personal chef clients and for my pop-up dinners in LA. It’s the perfect addition for any mezze platter and also pairs well with fish and poultry. It’s also vegan.

The trick to the best Melitzaosalata is to coax out the eggplant’s smoky flavors, either by charring it on the grill, over a gas flame on your stovetop (that can be messy, but it’s worth it), or in the oven. Then you’ll want to let it cool completely. After it cools, drain it either in a colander or a cheese cloth. This will help remove any residual bitterness that eggplants can have. It also keeps your dip from being too watery.

Variations of Melitzaosalata

This recipe is a rustic version of Melitzaosalata. You can make it into more of a combined dip by pureeing everything in your blender or food processor. In northern Greece they add local cheese and walnuts to the recipe. And in the middle east they incorporate tahini into it to make Baba Ganoush. I would say all are equally delicious and super fun to experiment with.

What’s your favorite version of Melitzanosalata? Let me know in the comments.

Melitzanosalata Step-By-Step

How to Greek Eggplant Dip — Melitzanosalata by xtinaxenos on Jumprope.


Ingredients

Eggplants - use the large, purple variety (these are sometimes referred to as American eggplants). These eggplants have a meaty texture and are perfect for roasting or grilling, and hold their shape well.

Garlic Cloves - it’s almost compulsory! The garlic adds an intense flavour and another signature taste to our melitzanosalata.

Red Wine Vinegar - the vinegar provides acidity and rounds out the flavours of the remaining ingredients.

Top tip: use fresh lemon juice if you don’t have any vinegar on hand. It works just as well.

Fresh Parsley - adds an earthy and fresh flavour to the dip

Olive Oil - helps to emulsify and bring everything together. Be sure to use an excellent Greek extra virgin olive oil when making melitzanosalata.

Optional ingredients

Breadcrumbs - this is entirely optional. I find that adding a tablespoon helps to keep everything together without the dip being too runny.

Smoked Paprika or Liquid Smoke- Melitzanosalata is traditionally made by charring the eggplants over an open flame, giving it its signature smoky flavour. If you don’t have access to an open flame, try cheating by adding ½ tsp of good quality smoked paprika or a few drops of liquid smoke.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 large eggplant, washed
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.

Pierce the eggplant a few times with the tip of a paring knife or fork. Cook eggplant on preheated grill, turning often, until the skin is charred and the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the skin from the eggplant and dice the pulp. Place into a mixing bowl, and add tomato, onion, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, and feta cheese mix well. Refrigerate for one hour, and season to taste with salt before serving.


Ingredients

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a fork to poke holes all over the eggplants and place on a baking sheet.

2. When the oven has preheated bake the eggplant for 40 minutes or until soft and slightly charred.

3. Remove the eggplants from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let sit for 15 minutes (this steams the eggplant and helps loosen the skin).

4. Cut the ends off the eggplants and discard. Peel the skin off the eggplants and discard. Place the eggplant in a food processor along with the garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Blend until smooth then transfer to a serving bowl.

5. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the fresh parsley and top with the olives. Serve with pita.


Greek Eggplant Dip – Melitzanosalata

Summer it seems has come to an end here in Athens, rain, thunderstorms and cloudy skies are sending a clear message, even though just a couple of days ago we were at the beach. It seems fitting to share one last summery recipe for the year, and that is melitzanosalata, basically an eggplant dip, Greek style. This version is simple both in preparation and ingredients, You simply bake the eggplant in the oven, no need for grilling.

We usually order this at restaurants and spread on bread. It is great to serve with rusks or pita and you can also use it as a spread on sandwiches. In Greece there are several versions of this dip and some include yogurt, lemon and walnuts, so you may encounter a creamier or whiter style. This recipe is done all by hand and no mixer or food processor is required.

Eggplant, as I’ve said before is one of those vegetables that is rich in soluble fiber which is the type of fiber that lowers cholesterol, along with the olive oil and garlic which are great sources of antioxidants and the good fat, this dip is definitely heart healthy, so, eat up with guilt-free!


Greek Eggplant Dip (Melitzanosalata)

This is a side dish which can be served with any meat, fish or vegetable dish.

Wash the eggplants and make a few deep cuts in their skin with a sharp knife.

Bake them whole in a very hot oven for approximately 1 hour until the skin is burned and cracks if you tap it with your fingers. It is important to be burned because that gives a special smoky taste to the dip.

Allow them to cool and cut them in two lengthwise.

Scoop out the white flesh and try to remove the dark seeds.

Put the flesh in a colander, add salt which will remove the bitterness from the eggplants and lemon juice which will help them to remain white.

Allow them to stand and drain for an hour.

Mash them as much as you can with the help of a fork, do not use a blender.

Add the yoghurt (or mayonnaise), the crushed garlic and the olive oil and stir them well.

Place them in a shallow bowl and decorate them with parsley leaves and a few drops of olive oil.


Greek Roasted Eggplant Dip – Melitzanosalata

Roasted Greek Eggplant Dip – Melitzanosalata, is a simple yet tasty dish of roasted eggplant, red pepper, onion, garlic, oil, and lemon juice. It’s perfect spread on crusty bread, toasted pita, crudités, or as part of a larger Greek meze platter!

Melitzanosalata (meh-lee-TZAH-noh-sah-LAH-tah) is a delicious dip that makes a wonderful snack, appetizer, part of a meze spread or even a delicious side for a meaty dish. It is a classic Greek meze made with eggplant, crushed garlic, onion, chopped parsley, and extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and fresh lemon juice. With the addition of roasted red pepper, you make the Mount Athos Melitzanosalata. It is quite similar to baba ghanoush but less creamy and lighter. It’s typically served with crusty bread, pita or vegetables and is a real crowd pleaser.

If you were to order a platter of meze (or pikilia, i.e. a variety of appetizers) at a Greek restaurant, it is highly possible that roasted eggplant dip (melitzanosalata) will be included. It makes a great appetizer or you can do as I like to do and pair it with other Greek dips to make a meal (such as tzatziki and taramasalata).

Growing up, I tended to favor other Greek dips like tzatziki, hummus, tahini sauce and taramasalata (a tasty dip made of cod roe). It wasn’t until I was in my late teens or early 20s when I started to appreciate eggplant in any form. Maybe it’s just that my taste buds were maturing, but I really, really like eggplant now, and this became one of my favorite appetizers for a summer gathering.

What is the difference between the Greek Melitzanosalata and Baba Ghanoush?

As most Mediterranean restaurants serve baba ghanoush, it is not surprising that it is more widely known than the Greek roasted eggplant dip, melitzanosalata. Baba ghanoush is of Arabic origin, and the primary difference with Melitzanosalata is found in texture and ingredients. The focal point of the Greek roasted eggplant dip is the eggplant left chunky in its basic form. Baba ghanoush, on the other hand, has a much smoother, creamier texture and is typically processed with a fair amount of tahini. Both dishes are delicious and have distinct differences in the texture and flavor, making them difficult to pick one!

How to make Melitzanosalata from scratch

  • When preparing this traditional Greek Roasted Eggplant Dip – Melitzanosalata recipe, make sure you use some fresh purple fat eggplants (not the long ones) and give them enough time to bake until soft and cooked throughout.
  • Start by piercing the eggplants all over several times (so they won’t explode while cooking) and roasting them either on the broiler or, for a smoky flavor, on the barbeque. If no barbeque is available or the weather is not permitting the use of one, roasting the eggplants in the broiler is the next best thing.
  • Let the eggplant cool until it’s easy to handle then peel it.
  • While the eggplants are roasting and/or cooling, prepare your other ingredients: dice the pepper, chop the parsley, slice the scallions, and prepare the mixture of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.
  • Chop the eggplants, add the vegetables and the oil mixture and stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate the eggplant dip for at least an hour prior to serving.

Some recipes call for using a blender to puree the eggplants resulting in a dip with a creamy, smooth texture. The method described here is a more traditional way.

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Every decent taverna in Greece has a category on their menu called alifes (αλοιφές), or “spreads” in English. It usually includes popular choices such as tzatziki, skordalia, taramosalata, tyrokafteri, melitzanosalata and more. We treat these dishes either as mezes, to be paired with a variety of other small plates for the main meal, or as dips, which we normally order as an appetizer to start the meal.

One of my favorite dips is melitzanosalata, made with roasted eggplant. Believed to originate in Southeast Asia, the eggplant was not used in Greece before Ottoman rule. Its cultivation and use gradually became widespread in the Mediterranean region during the Ottoman period nowadays, the eggplant is a staple ingredient of Greek cuisine, as evidenced by dishes such as moussaka, papoutsakia and briam.

Variations on roasted eggplant dip are common across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. While the Middle Eastern takes often include tahini (namely baba ghanoush), in Greece they are usually made just with olive oil and lemon or vinegar, although sometimes yogurt or mayonnaise is added for a milder, creamier result. Often roasted sweet red peppers are included but you’ll sometimes also find sundried tomatoes and olives, too. Chopped fresh herbs are a must.

The secret to melitzanosalata is roasting the eggplant until its skin is charred, in order to give the dip its smoky flavor. You can throw your eggplants whole on a barbecue, turning them to cook evenly, or you cook them directly on the open flame of a gas cooktop. These methods work best for the smoky flavor we’re looking for. But if you don’t have access to an open flame or barbecue, the easiest (and most common) method is to broil them in the oven. You must keep the eggplant whole as it is, stem on, and pierce it all over with a fork to prevent it from exploding while it cooks! Once the eggplants are charred, soft and wrinkly, they are ready to use.

Another important tip is to let the eggplant strain well before you blitz it. If the final result is too loose, you can always mix in a couple of teaspoons of breadcrumbs, but if you allow it to strain well that will not be necessary.

I make lots of different variations on this recipe, often depending on how I’m planning to use it. The recipe I’m sharing here is easy to make and very versatile – I even sometimes use it as a side for fish or mixed with pasta. I also love it in sandwiches, as eggplant pairs great with several lovely cheeses such as feta, manouri and haloumi.

Recipe: Melitzanosalata

5 medium eggplants
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
60 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped celery stalk
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 tbsp red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp chopped green olives
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra to serve
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your broiler at 375 F / 190 C. Wash eggplants and pat dry. Pierce them with a fork all over and place them on a baking tray on the top shelf. Broil for 30 minutes, then flip them and broil them for another 20 minutes, until they go very soft and the skin turns wrinkly and charred. (To do it over an open flame, stick a large fork in the eggplant and hold it over the fire until it goes very soft and the skin turns wrinkly and charred.)

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for 15-30 minutes. Once cooled down and easy to hold, carefully scoop out the softened eggplant from the charred skin using a spoon and discard most of the seeds (if there are any). Place on a colander, add salt and allow the insides to strain for at least 10-15 minutes. Gently press them with your hands to remove any excess water and finely chop them or pulse them using a food processor (I usually pulse them but don’t cream them entirely, as I like the dip to be a bit chunky when I eat it).

Place the eggplant into a bowl and add in the chopped scallions and garlic, the peppers, the olives, the yogurt and the herbs. Mix well. Gradually add in the olive oil, and then add the lemon juice, cumin, some pepper and adjust the salt if necessary. Mix well with a spoon. Transfer into a bowl, drizzle with some extra olive oil, and serve. You may enjoy it warm or chilled.

To convert metric measurements to US and British kitchen units, click here.


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