You’ve probably come across the –salata ending on a couple of Greek salad/dip types of food, the most common being Taramosalata (it’s with an “o” not an “a”). Salata obviously means salad, and in some cases when it’s on the end of a word it refers to a dip or spread made out of whatever the first part of the word is. So taramosalata is a dip made with taramas (fish roe), tyrosalata is a dip made with tyri (cheese, usually feta), maidanosalata is a dip made with parsley, and the list goes on… Every Greek restaurant has at least some of these, and they are best eaten with crusty bread or in some cases chips (French fries). Greeks will rarely order a starter each, they mostly have a selection of nibbles in the middle of the table and share these before the main course arrives. And more often than not, these “mezes” are enough to feed an army, let alone the people at the table!
This dip is called Melitzanosalata because it’s made with melitzana, which means aubergine or eggplant depending on where you’re reading from. You may recall a previous post, where I used aubergines from a friend’s garden. I still had some left over and they were beginning to look very unhappy. Actually I’m surprised they lasted that long. So yesterday I decided to test a couple of recipes, to see which I liked more. They are both taken from Greek websites, so I’ll link because it’s the right thing to do, but I’ll save you a click by telling you you’d have to read Greek to make any sense!
I made small quantities because these were tests, and also because garlic is just about forbidden in this flat by a certain Mister. And these are pretty garlicky!
Both recipes start out with cooking the aubergines, preferably on a charcoal BBQ or an open flame. This is not possible in a flat, so I thought I’d stick them under the grill (broiler) till they blackened on all sides. You know, like we do peppers. Yeah, this is all good if you are aware of one thing. Aubergines explode. Literally. The first batch was ok, with a small piff and a few seeds popping out of one of the fruit. During the second round though I heard a loud (and I mean loud) bang, which I thought was a door slamming. It wasn’t. It was an aubergine Molotov that had just ruined the next half hour of my life (spent cleaning splotches of goo and seeds off the inside of my oven). I don’t know if pricking them beforehand would have helped. Anyhow, I saved most of the flesh and used it, hoping for the best. It was fine in the end, but I’m sure it would have tasted even better if the skins had fully charred and the insides softened more. Apparently, if you have a gas cooker (the ones with a flame instead of a hob) you can cook them on that. I have no idea how you would go about it though, so don’t hold me to it.
Melitzanosalata #1 – From Mount Athos (the place where no women are allowed. Yes, there is such a place in Greece. In this day and age!)
What you need:
3 small aubergines (eggplants)
1 small or ½ large roasted red pepper (from a jar)
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 Tbs olive oil
1 ½ Tbs vinegar
Salt & pepper
What you do:
- Preheat grill (broiler). Place the aubergines on an oven rack or tray under the grill. Get them up close to save time. Grill until they are black on all sides. You want the skin to burn. You don’t want them to explode, but you’ll have to risk it because I don’t know how to avoid it. You can try pricking them first with a fork in a few places. Cross your fingers.
- If all goes well, let the aubergines cool for a few minutes. Then cut into the skin at the top (where the stem is) and make a slit down to the bottom. Open up the skin and scoop out the flesh. Put it into a bowl and mash it with a fork. I used a knife and fork and sort of mashed/chopped it.
- Chop the roasted red pepper and add it to the bowl.
- Put the garlic, oil and vinegar in a food processor and whiz into a dressing.
- Add half the dressing to the bowl with some salt and pepper, and stir it all well. Taste and add more dressing if necessary (I didn’t).
- Put it in the fridge and leave it for a while so the tastes can mingle and get to know each other. While you clean your oven.
Note: This is really garlicky. It was a bit strong for my taste, but I’m not a huge garlic fan to begin with. I took some to my mum who is, and she loved it. It’s actually supposed to be like this, but you can adjust it to suit your palate. Original recipe on Matia website.
Melitzanosalata #2 – With Yogurt and Walnuts, by chef Argiro Barbarigou
What you need:
2 medium aubergines
4 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs vinegar
1 clove garlic, mashed (or pressed through the garlic-press-thingy)
½ cup walnut crumbs (use a food processor to blend them until sand-like)
½ tub (100g) Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
Salt & pepper to taste
What you do:
- Follow steps 1 & 2 from above.
- Add oil, vinegar, garlic. Mix.
- Add walnut crumbs. Mix.
- If it’s cooled down enough add yogurt. Mix.
Note: This has a mellower taste. Original recipe (in Greek) here.
Enjoy both dips on top of crusty bread, rusks, or toasted baguette slices.
Other great looking recipes using aubergines:
Slow Cooker Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes from The Perfect Pantry (I’ve tried this, love it!)
Spicy Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad with Thai Flavors from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Italian Grilled Eggplant Cakes by Andrea Meyers
Easy Baked Eggplant Parmigiana by Food Blogga