Melintzanosalata me Maidano

Eggplant and Parsley Spread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    6 to 8

    servings (about 3 cups )

Appears in

THIS fresh-tasting spread comes from the island of Tinos. Each year, thousands of Greeks visit the island on August 15, the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, to see a legendary miracle-performing icon in its cathedral. But, although the island has beautiful old villages and excellent beaches, these visitors seldom go beyond the main square of the port. The countryside is scattered with stone dovecotes that resemble modern sculptures emerging from the reddish brown hills. Unlike most islands of the Cyclades, Tinos produces very interesting fresh cow’s milk cheeses, which are left to drain in wonderful presses carved from white marble.

The recipe is adapted from one by Nikoletta Foskolou, a remarkable lady from the village of Xinara, who collected recipes from her mother, her grandmother and other good island cooks and published them in a nice little book called Traditional Recipes from Tinos.

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Ingredients

  • 2–3 large eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 3 scallions (white and most of the green parts), chopped
  • 2–3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt packed, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, diced and drained (optional)
  • slices of country bread, toasted if desired

Method

Preheat the broiler.

Rub the eggplants with a little of the oil, place on a baking sheet and broil, turning often, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the skin chars and turns black all over. Let the eggplants cool, then peel them and chop the flesh; drain in a colander.

In a blender or a food processor, combine 1 cup of the parsley leaves, the scallions, 2 tablespoons vinegar, half of the remaining oil and the garlic and process into a smooth paste.

Finely chop the remaining parsley leaves. Place the eggplant flesh in a medium bowl and stir in the parsley-scallion mixture, then add the 1 cup finely chopped parsley, capers (if using) and the remaining oil. Taste and season with vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Just before serving, fold the tomatoes, if using, into the eggplant mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with parsley leaves and serve with the bread.

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