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Greek Eggplant Dip

Friends, the weather has been glorious and the good food plentiful. I've been enjoying making simple fare for sharing with friends and family. Today I bring you a recipe whipped up for a backyard afternoon with friends and babies: Greek eggplant dip, aka melitzanasalata. In Greece, flavors and techniques for making melitzanasalata vary tremendously, depending on the region or family. When I saw the eggplants in our share, I knew I had to try my hand at this flavorful dip. I consulted my friend Walter, who prefers to think of himself not as a cook, but a "kitchen chemist." See, Walter had served me the most delicious eggplant dip a few weeks ago and I tried to recreate it. The recipe below comes from him, with the caveat that it is a base recipe for experimentation. Try it and see what you think and don't be afraid to make your own innovations. For my version, I whipped it up very smooth in a mini food processor. You could chop it and mix it yourself, or use a processor but keep it chunky. Greek Eggplant Dip ~serves 4-6 generously
  • 1-2 eggplants
  • a little red onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • two handfuls of parsley
  • 2-3 mint leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil, or less, to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • a ripe tomato (optional)
  1. Cut off the stem of the eggplants. Poke them all over with a fork. Put them on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven and roast for about 45 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. The eggplants are done when they have collapsed and the skin is shriveled.
  2. Cool the eggplants and then split them open and remove as many seeds as you can. Scrape the flesh from the skin and put it in a food processor.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, mint, salt, lemon, and tomato. Pulse the mixture until it is coarsely chopped. Add about half of the olive oil and pulse again. Taste and add more olive oil if desired (it will help emulsify the dip if you want a smoother texture). The key is to pulse the mixture in short bursts and stop when you have the consistency you like.