Melitzanosalata, or Greek eggplant dip is perhaps not the most popular of all the Greek dips, or salads. While its often overshadowed by tzatziki and tirokafteri, melitzanosalata really is a great dip bursting with a lot of flavor, so it really deserves a bit more credit! It’s made with lots of eggplants that are baked (or even better: roasted) until soft and almost creamy, some garlic and fresh parsley, a drizzle of refreshing lemon juice and some good quality extra-virgin olive oil. It’s vegan / plant-based. It’s delicious. It’s a great appetizer, or meze served with some pita, or bread on the side… I even like to eat it for breakfast on a bit of toast.
I’ve seen plenty of different versions of melitzanosalata: some include feta, others grilled red pointed pepper, some add vinegar instead of lemon juice (or both) and others like to add a little bit of onion. I’ve kept my version here pretty basic, so you really get the full flavor of the eggplants without too many other additions, but, of course, you can use this version as a base for adding other ingredients and flavorings of your liking.
Having said that, I believe this dip doesn’t need too many add-ons and it can only be slightly improved by roasting the eggplants over fire either on a grill, or stove. Unfortunately, I have neither a gas-stove nor a grill, so I simply bake them in the oven for this recipe… no intense smoky flavor, but still very tasty! Unfortunately, when using an oven, you really do need to give the eggplants some time – they take about 50 minutes to an hour to be cooked throughout and nice and soft in the middle. Really, don’t try to rush when cooking with eggplant… there is nothing worse than an undercooked bitter and spongy eggplant!
Apart from the waiting time, there is really nothing too difficult about this recipe. Ever mashed something with a fork (Potato? Avocado? Banana?)? If you have, then you can make this delicious Greek eggplant dip at home. Want to know what’s even better? This dip tastes even better a day after preparing it as all the flavors have had the time to combine, so make a bit extra (my recipe makes quite a substantial amount anyway) so you can enjoy this dip for several days!
Tip #1: For a nice smoky flavor, cook eggplants over a flame on a gas stove, or barbeque for about 20 minutes (depending on the size), or until the insides have turned soft and the skin has charred nicely on all sides. Turn regularly to char all sides equally.
Tip #2: What to do about bitter eggplants? Should your eggplants turn out to be bitter after cooking (have a taste before adding the other ingredients), transfer the cooked eggplant flesh (without the skin) into a cloth and squeeze out as much of the juice as you can – Often, it’s the juice that is the most bitter. Also consider adding half a tablespoon of sugar, or honey to the dip (or see tip #3).
Tip #3:Add some roasted red sweet pointed pepper to add some color and a bit of sweetness to the dip. To roast the pepper, add the it to the tray with the eggplants and take it out about 20 – 30 minutes before taking out the eggplant: it’s done when the skin has charred nicely and the flesh has turned soft. Peel off the skin, chop into pieces and add to the bowl with the other ingredients during step 4 of this recipe.
Melitzanosalata / Μελιτζανοσαλάτα (Greek Eggplant Dip)
- 4 large eggplants (about 1kg in total)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 5g flatleaf parsley, stalks removed
- 30ml lemon juice
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil + extra for serving
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Prepare the eggplants: wash the eggplants and pierce the skin all around with a fork, or skewer.
- Broil the eggplants: Place eggplants on an oven tray and broil them in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until their centers have turned soft and creamy and the skin has charred slightly (time depends slightly on size of eggplants and your oven). Turn the eggplants a couple of times while cooking to char on all sides. When the eggplants are soft, take them out of the oven and let them cool slightly. When the eggplants are safe to touch, rip open the skin and scoop out the soft meat from the inside and chop into very small pieces. Place chopped eggplant in a bowl.
- Prepare the eggplant dip: Finely mince, or crush the garlic cloves and finely chop the parsley leaves. Add the garlic and parsley to the bowl with the chopped eggplant. Finally, add the lemon juice and olive oil to the bowl and mash everything together with a fork until all ingredients have mixed well. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
- To serve: drizzle on some extra olive oil and decorate with olives and fresh parsley (optional). Serve with pita or bread.