Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Salad)

Before taking a bite out of this blog, there are a few things you should know about melitzanosalata. First, it’s a mouthful to pronounce, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed. (It’s pronounced meh-lee-tza-no-sah-LAH-ta). Second, although melitzanosalata translates into “eggplant salad” it can also pass as a dip or a spread. Finally, melitzanosalata is not only simple to make, it’s healthy, too.

Melitzanosalata is an effortless dish with very few ingredients. The main ingredient is, of course, the melitzana (eggplant). Typically, the eggplant (I prefer the big round variety) is charred over a flame to create that smokiness that’s characteristic of melitzanosalata. You can also bake the eggplant in the oven to achieve a similar result, but if you want that true smoky taste—fire up the grill. Like the majority of Greek dishes, garlic is key to making melitzanosalata. It shouldn’t be too overpowering, but should still produce enough kick to let you (and people around you) know it’s there. Extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh parsley are also added to the mix. Some recipes may stop there—but this melitzanosalata recipe calls for add-ins like ripe tomatoes and peppers for extra chunky texture and incredible flavor.

Smoky and refreshing, melitzanosalata will complement grilled meats and vegetables or can be served as an appetizer with a handful of warm pita or crusty bread. And if you’re still caught up on the pronunciation of melitzanosalata, just focus on the making and eating.

Ingredients:
-3 large eggplant
-1 tsp. salt
-4 cloves garlic, chopped
-½ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
-1 lemon, juiced
-2 Tablespoons parsley
-1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
-2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-½ jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)

Directions:
1. Wash and dry the eggplant and prick each in a few places with a fork or knife. Wrap each eggplant in aluminum foil.
2. Place eggplant over a gas, charcoal, or propane flame, turning frequently with tongs until soft. The eggplant should have a blackened skin. (You can also bake your eggplant)*
3. Remove from flame and remove the foil, and run the eggplant under cold water to cool slightly. Slice the eggplant in half immediately (if you let cool too long the flesh will turn dark). Scoop out the flesh and place in a colander and lightly top with salt. Let cool in a colander for 15 minutes.
3. Place the eggplant in a food processor and add in the chopped garlic. Pulse in the food processor and slowly add in the olive oil in a steady stream until gone. Repeat with the lemon juice. (Don’t pulse it too much. You’ll want a chunky texture).
4. Fold in the parsley and half of the chopped tomatoes and peppers and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and cover and chill for about one hour.
5. Before serving, garnish with parsley and the remaining chopped tomatoes and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

*Baking eggplant instructions:
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for about one hour until the skin is charred. Follow the same steps from #3 on.
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