Greek Melitzanosalata – Eggplant Salad Recipe

Posted in on the 13th September, 2012

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants (plump aubergines), these should be glossy,firm, and a deep mauve colour with no discoloration
  • Small finely grated white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme and basil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, preferably Greek "agoureleo" type
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 large ripe tomato, peeled and finely diced

In Greece, the olive factor is apt to be the type this country has made famous the Calamatas. This meaty, pointed variety, found in the Calamata area, is marinated in olive oil, vinegar and oregano until it develops a characteristically savory flavor.

This becomes an essential of such Greek specialties as roasted eggplant salad (Melitzanosalata) or aubergine salad. In this, eggplants are first roasted until evenly charred, then baked until the meat is cooked, and then peeled. In a food processor, the meat is blended until smooth with pitted Calamata olives, onions, lemon juice, black pepper, garlic, parsley, oregano, mint, dill weed and yogurt. Some recipes also call for cinnamon and all-spice. The smooth mix is served as a salad dip with pita bread.

Greek Melitzanosalata Salad recipe Directions:

Pierce eggplants with a fork in several places, set them in a shallow dish, and bake at 350 degrees until the eggplant loses its shape, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When cool enough to handle, peel eggplants and coarsely chop the flesh. Place in a serving bowl and add garlic, onion, parsley, herbs and sufficient olive oil to moisten the mixture. Mash with a fork. Add vinegar, olives, capers, salt and pepper and blend thoroughly. Stir in the tomato. Chill until needed, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Another variation of the recipe directions is to halve the aubergines, then roast them in a moderate oven or on a grill (if possible over charcoal) with the cut faces downwards, until the skins harden and blacken. Remove and mash the pulp, add the onion, parsley and seasonings then add the oil to form a thick cream and finally beat in the lemon juice. A liquidiser is ideal for this purpose. Some people add a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt (and I suspect some even add mayonnaise!) to lighten the texture, but this is not essential.

Original Greek Melitzanosalata Salad recipe yield: 4 servings

Some tips for making superior Melitzanosalata:

Melitzanasal√°ta is made in all the countries bordering on the eastern Mediterranean, in one variation or another. Some recipes add garlic, but this destroys the delicate, nutty taste of the aubergine, especially delicious if it has been grilled over charcoal. Makes enough for 4, when served together with other mezedes. Provide little wedges of country bread with which to eat the melitzanasal√°ta.

The slow roasting of eggplants contributes to the faintly smoky taste to this delicious spread, ideal with a coarse peasant bread or as a dip for vegetables.

Familiar eggplant spread (melitzanosalata) is quite garlicky and good.

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