The humble eggplant has to be up there with my favourite vegetables, although in saying that I don’t think there is really a vegetable I don’t like. The way an eggplants flesh transforms when you stick it in a blistering hot oven or over a hot grill is truly magnificent.
There are so many counties that have their own spin on eggplant dip, and Greece’s version seemed to be a good place to start given my childhood love affair with their food. Although this recipe only has 5 ingredients (not including salt and pepper), the vinegar and garlic brighten up the smokey/creamy flavour of the eggplant really well. Simplicity at its best!
This would be a great thing to make if you are putting together a meze style spread for dinner.
A few notes when making this:
- Before placing the eggplants in the oven, please make sure you stab each of them a few times. Although I personally have never had an eggplant detonate in my oven, I’ve had a pumpkin bomb, and that was not an enjoyable mess to clean up (and the bang when it exploded may have scared the bejesus out of me).
- The hour in a stinking hot oven is not an overestimate. You really want the eggplants to collapse in on themselves and halve in volume (and double in flavour). Alternatively if you have an outdoor grill, this is also a really good way of cooking the eggplant, plus you get that great smokey flavour.
- You can leave the eggplants on the tray to cool once you take them out the oven, but I find it a bit faster to transfer them to a cutting board and carefully slice them down the middle. Just be aware that as they are cooling they release quite a bit of liquid, so if your cutting board doesn’t have that groove around the edge for catching liquid, this may be a little messier.
- Speaking of which, depending on how thick you like your dip to be, you can take the extra step of removing extra liquid from the eggplant flesh by first putting it in a sieve and draining before processing it with the other ingredients.
- After you have blended, taste the dip and adjust with further vinegar or salt if necessary.
- And finally, in my experience a good dip is always made better with a drizzle of high quality olive oil (I always have a “cooking” olive oil (cheaper), and a much fancier “finishing” olive oil (for salads, dips etc.) in my kitchen). The bread in the picture is one I pick up in my local Turkish store, but pita or a crusty loaf would also go fantastically with it.
Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip)
- 3 eggplants (750g)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 230°C.
- Prick each of the eggplants several times with a knife and place on an oven tray.
- Roast for about an hour until soft and very wrinkled. Remove from the oven and carefully cut each eggplant down the middle and open up a little to speed up the cooling.
- Once the eggplant is room temperature scoop the flesh out of the skins and add to a food processor along with the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then blend until smooth.
- Spoon into a bowl and drizzle some good quality olive oil over the top. Serve with pita or your choice of bread.