Eggplant Caviar

Melintzanosalata

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    2 cups

Appears in

The Foods of Greece

The Foods of Greece

By Aglaia Kremezi

Published 1993

  • About

A classic, simple, and delicious Greek spread, Melintzanosalata can also be used as a sauce for steamed potatoes and other vegetables. Alas, the version tourists taste in the tavernas is a mixture of mayonnaise with a little eggplant mixed in—it has very little to do with the real thing.

I’m not exaggerating by saying that every Greek cook has his or her own version of melintzanosalata. The best is found in the small ouzeries in northern Greece. It often contains nothing more than eggplant, a little oil, and some vinegar. In Sotiri’s ouzo bar in Thessalonica, the eggplant skin is scorched over a charcoal fire, then the flesh is carefully removed with a spoon and made into the melintzanosalata, which is then returned to the boadike eggplant skin and served.

You can make Melintzanosalata in a food processor, but I prefer the coarse texture it has when made with a food mill. Prepare it several hours or a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. It tastes better the day after it is made.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • 1 green bell pepper, roasted and peeled
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ⅓-½ teaspoon minced fresh chili pepper, or freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  • Sea salt

Method

Pierce the eggplants twice near the stem with a fork.

There are 3 possible ways to give the eggplant the smoky flavor this recipe requires: If you have a charcoal grill, cook the eggplants over the coals until the flesh is tender. If you have an electric stove, place 3 layers of aluminum foil on a burner set at medium heat. Place the eggplants on the foil and let them cook, turning them frequently, until the skin is crisp all over and the flesh is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. If you have a gas stove, hold each eggplant with a barbecue fork over the flame until the skin is crisp, then bake at 400°F. until the flesh is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Peel the eggplants while still hot and discard most of the seeds. Chop the flesh, or pass it through the coarse disk of a food mill. Chop the pepper finely and mix with the eggplant.

In a medium bowl beat the eggplant and pepper with a wooden spoon, adding the oil and vinegar a little at a time. Add the garlic, chili pepper, and parsley while continuing to beat. Season with salt. Taste, and add more vinegar if needed.