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.
- 3 large eggplants
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ green pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 tomato, seeded and diced
- ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
- 1 handful of Italian parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Wash and dry the eggplants and prick each in a few places with a fork or knife. Wrap each eggplant in aluminum foil.
- Place eggplants 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.*)
- Remove from flame, remove the foil, and run the eggplants under cold water. Slice the eggplants in half immediately (if you let them cool too long the flesh will turn dark). Scoop out the flesh, place in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Let them cool in a colander for 15 minutes.
- Place the eggplant in a food processor and add in the chopped garlic. Pulse while slowly adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Repeat with the lemon juice. (Don’t pulse the ingredients too much. You’ll want a chunky texture).
- Fold in the tomatoes and peppers and most of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, cover and chill for about one hour.
- Before serving, garnish with the remaining parsley and drizzle with olive oil.