Melitzanosalata – the famous Greek aubergine dip

Melitzanosalata – the famous Greek aubergine dip

Melitzanosalata is a a deliciously moreish dip of smoky burnt aubergines, garlic, lots of olive oil and a touch of lemon. 

Melitzanosalata is the famous Greek Eggplant Dip (Greek Aubergine Dip depending on where you live!)

If there was a holy trinity of dips in Cyprus it would be Taramasalata (the pink smoked fish-row dip), Hummus (you all know this one) and finally Melitzanosalata.

Tzatziki sometimes gatecrashes the party with it’s purer than white goody-two-shoes attitude……but I prefer tzatziki with other food (goes great with lamb)…

A quick note – since I’ve lived in the States for quite a few years I’m going to use the name Eggplant and Aubergine indiscriminately throughout this post and I don’t want any abuse for it!  

Anyway… who doesn’t love the idea of a garlicky, smoky aubergine dip? Before you answer that, let me ask this; how many times have you eaten something that sounds like you’ll love it but in reality it was just…eh, sort of non-descript?

That’s usually how I find most variations of melitzanosalata; I want to love them but it doesn’t live up to expectations..especially true of the shop bought stuff, which is annoying as I love cooking with aubergines.

However, when it’s good – it’s really good and my yiayia’s aubergine dip is no exception – it’s incredible. 

It’s what you want it to be; it’s rich, thick, has a smoky depth that is lifted at the last minute by a citrus note but wrapped in a luxurious duvet of olive oil.. 

What is the secret?! I hear you ask.

How too can I make an melitzanosalata that makes me want to lick the plate clean and start eating it from my fingers when the flatbreads run out??!!

Well since you ask so nicely, there are two secrets to making the perfect eggplant dip.

  1. Use the best possible extra virgin olive oil you can get. Seriously. I have two types of x.virgin olive oil – my regular one that I use daily and my special under the counter version that I use more sparingly for dressings or in recipes where the olive oil really contributes to the final flavour. This is one of those dishes.
  2. Strain the mashed aubergine. I noticed this is done a lot when making baba ganoush, just leave the aubergine sitting in a colander/sieve for 10 or 20 minutes to draw out some of liquid and help concentrate the flavours and keep the final dip from being too loose.

Actually, whilst I think of it there is another tip when it comes to the mashing process. If for some reason you really love washing up then by all means blitz this dip in a food processor or dust off your pestle and mortar and smash away.

But it’s really not needed and I personally think it takes away a bit of the magic of this dish – just give it a mash with the back of a fork, it’s very little effort and it’s nice to have some texture opposed to a puree.

Melitzanosalata Greek Eggplant Dip by Theo Michaels Greek Aubergine Dip
Aubergines ready to roast for a couple of hours.

My Greek Eggplant Dip recipe, Melitzanosalata – as featured on BBC Radio Weekend Kitchen with Nick Coffer.

So, after finding a couple of aubergines hiding in the back of my fridge I decided to give the aubergine dip another go and wow. Seriously. Just wow. I made this to go with my chicken gyros but I must admit I think the dip stole the show! It was really delicious! And I know it’s a cliché but it does taste better the next day.

I store mine in a sterilised jar in fridge. When I say store, I mean I temporarily put it on a shelf before just eating the rest of it (it’s never managed two days)..

Greek Eggplant Dip – Melitzanosalata:

Ingredients:

2 medium sized aubergines

90ml extra virgin olive oil (good quality)

1 small clove garlic crushed

Lots of salt and pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbl toasted breadcrumbs*

Juice 1/4 lemon (to taste)

*toast some bread till dark (not burnt), let it cool, then break up what you need. This soaks up any excess liquid and adds to the smokiness.

Melitzanosalata Method:

  1. Place the aubergines on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast the aubergines whole for 90 minutes at 175c (FAN). You want them really cooked so if they are quite large aubergines leave them in for two hours. (I added a few other bits onto the tray but I’ve found it doesn’t really make much of a difference).
  2. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool (either 10 minutes so you can handle them or even overnight – doesn’t matter). Slice open and scrap out the aubergine flesh with a fork discarding the burnt skin.
  3. Mash the aubergine with the back of a fork and add a little of the lemon juice and taste before adding it all.
  4. Now place the aubergine flesh in a sieve and leave for 10-20 minutes to let it drain (before removing I usually give the aubergine a little push with my fork to help squeeze some more of the juice out).
  5. Discard the water and pacing the aubergine back into a bowl add the rest of the ingredients to the aubergine flesh and mash together. Taste for seasoning and add more or less lemon juice / olive oil if needed.

Store in a jar or devour immediately!

Goes great with just about anything or even on its own for a quick snack! 

Want to know about the health benefits of Eggplants? Check out this great article by Well Being Secrets all about the health benefits of eggplants!


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