Melitzanosalata Recipe: Traditional Greek Eggplant Dip

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Melitzanosalata Recipe: Traditional Greek Eggplant Dip

Recipe by GreekFood Course: dipCuisine: greekDifficulty: starter
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

Melitzanosalata is a traditional Greek dish, often served as a dip or spread. It’s primarily made from roasted eggplants, which are known for their rich, smoky flavor. The eggplants are typically mashed or blended and then combined with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs like parsley. Some versions also include onions, bell peppers, or tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • Eggplants – 2 Large

  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons

  • Garlic cloves – 2, minced

  • Red onion – 1 small, finely chopped

  • Fresh parsley – 2 tablespoons, chopped

  • Salt and pepper – to taste

Directions

  • Roast the Eggplants:
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Pierce the eggplants with a fork and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until they are soft and the skin is charred.
  • Once done, remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Prepare the Eggplant Pulp:
  • Peel the skin off the roasted eggplants and discard it.
  • Chop the eggplant flesh into a bowl.
  • Make the Salad:
  • Add the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped red onion, and parsley to the eggplant.
  • Mix well to combine. The texture should be somewhat chunky, not entirely smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve:
  • Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.
  • Serve as a dip with pita bread or as a side dish.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Roasting Technique: For the best flavor, roast the eggplants over an open flame (like a gas stove or barbecue) until the skin is blackened. This imparts a smoky flavor to the flesh. If using an oven, consider broiling for a few minutes at the end for a similar effect.
  • Drain the Eggplant: After roasting and peeling, let the eggplant flesh drain in a colander for a few minutes. Eggplants contain a lot of water, and draining them helps to concentrate the flavor and improve the texture of the salad.
  • Seasoning Adjustments: Don’t be afraid to adjust the amount of garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to suit your taste. Some people prefer a more garlicky or tangy flavor, while others might enjoy a richer taste with more olive oil.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh lemon juice and high-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. Fresh herbs, like parsley, also make a significant difference.
  • Texture Variations: Traditional Melitzanosalata is somewhat chunky, so you can blend it for a smoother texture if preferred. Just be careful not to over-process it into a puree.
  • Add-ins: Add capers, chopped walnuts, or crumbled feta cheese for additional flavors and textures. A sprinkle of smoked paprika can also enhance the smoky flavor if you can’t char the eggplants.
  • Serving Suggestions: Melitzanosalata can be served as a dip, spread, or a side salad. It pairs wonderfully with crusty bread, pita, or as part of a mezze platter.
  • Make Ahead: This dish often tastes better the next day, as the flavors have more time to meld together. It can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
  • Health Considerations: You can reduce the amount of olive oil for a lighter version. The eggplant itself is low in calories but rich in fiber.
  • Enjoy at Room Temperature: While chilling the salad is recommended, serving it at room temperature can enhance its flavors and texture. Cold temperatures can mute some of the subtler flavors, so consider taking it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.

Melitzanosalata is enjoyed for its creamy texture and savory taste, often accompanied by a hint of smokiness from the roasted eggplants. It’s commonly served with bread or pita and can be a part of a meze platter, which is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in Mediterranean cuisine. This dish is not only flavorful but also offers a healthy option as it’s packed with vegetables and made using olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet.

  • Optional Variations:
    • Feta Cheese: Crumble in some feta cheese for a richer, tangier flavor.
    • Vinegar: Substitute some of the lemon juice with red wine vinegar for a different acidic note.
    • Herbs: Experiment with different herbs like dill, mint, or basil for a unique twist.
    • Spices: Add a pinch of cumin or smoked paprika for extra depth and smokiness.
  • Storage:
    • Melitzanosalata can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
    • It’s best served cold, making it a great make-ahead dish for gatherings or meal prep.
  • Serving Suggestions:
    • Serve with warm pita bread or crusty bread or as a spread in sandwiches.
    • It pairs well with grilled meats or as part of a mezze platter.
    • Use it as a dip with fresh vegetables for a healthy snack.
  • Health Benefits:
    • Eggplants, the main ingredient, are low in calories but high in fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and heart health.
    • The use of olive oil adds healthy fats, which are known for their heart-healthy properties.
    • Lemon juice provides vitamin C, aiding in immunity and skin health.
  • Tips for Perfect Melitzanosalata:
    • Roasting Technique: For a deeper smoky flavor, you can roast the eggplants over an open flame or a gas stove. Rotate them regularly to ensure even charring.
    • Drain the Eggplants: After roasting, let the eggplants sit in a colander to drain excess liquid. This prevents the salad from becoming too watery.
    • Taste as You Go: Adjust the seasoning and acidity as you mix the salad. The flavors should be balanced between the smokiness of the eggplant, the tang of lemon, and the freshness of the herbs.
  • Pairing with Wine:
    • Melitzanosalata pairs beautifully with a variety of wines. A crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a light red like Pinot Noir can complement the smoky and tangy flavors of the salad.
  • Cultural Significance:
    • In Greek cuisine, Melitzanosalata is more than just a dish; it’s part of a tradition of sharing and enjoying food with family and friends. It’s often found in family gatherings, local tavernas, and festive occasions, symbolizing the Greek ethos of hospitality and joy in simple, flavorful meals.

Melitzanosalata is delicious and a healthy option, rich in fiber and antioxidants due to the eggplants. It’s a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit various dietary preferences and is a staple in Greek cuisine. Enjoy experimenting with this recipe and making it your own!

What to serve with Melitzanosalata?

Melitzanosalata, a delightful Greek eggplant dip, pairs wonderfully with various dishes and accompaniments. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Fresh Bread or Pita: Serve melitzanosalata with fresh, warm bread or pita for dipping. Toasting the bread or pita adds a nice texture contrast.
  2. Crudités: Offer a selection of raw vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes for a healthy and colorful option.
  3. Grilled or Roasted Vegetables: Complement the dip with grilled vegetables like zucchini, peppers, or mushrooms.
  4. Meat or Fish: Grilled lamb, chicken, or fish like salmon make for a heartier meal alongside melitzanosalata.
  5. Cheese Plate: Include a variety of cheeses, such as feta, halloumi, or Greek kasseri, to add richness.
  6. Olives and Pickles: A selection of olives and pickled vegetables can add a nice tang and variety.
  7. Greek Salad: Serve a classic Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, and a light dressing to complement the flavors of the melitzanosalata.
  8. Greek Meze Platter: Create a meze platter with other Greek dips like tzatziki, hummus, taramasalata, and melitzanosalata for various flavors.
  9. Rice or Grains: For a more filling option, serve it alongside rice, quinoa, or other grains.
  10. Wine Pairing: A nice glass of Greek wine, like Assyrtiko or Retsina, can complement the flavors beautifully.

These options provide a balanced and delicious way to enjoy melitzanosalata, whether you’re looking for a light snack, a side dish, or a more substantial meal.