Eggplant salad is the dish that I grew up with. My mom always had eggplants at hand, either fresh (in the season) or freezed for the winter. And a delicious eggplant salad or “salata de vinete” was ready in no time, with lots of flavours and incredibly rich.
I’ve wrote more about the traditional recipe in a previous post, so you can check it out here.
But the inspiration for this new or reinterpreted version of our classic eggplant salad came after we traveled to Greece this September, and oh boy, it’s so hard for me to put into words how many amazing dishes we tried while discovering the Cyclades Islands.
But one of the dishes that I loved the most was their classic eggplant salad, which I knew I had to recreate at home.
Today’s recipe is not a copy of the Greek one, but I like to say it has its soul 🙂
On one of evenings we spent in Santorini, we met with a group of friends from Canada and decided to go for a late dinner at one of the hidden tavernas in Oia. We shared lots of meze at a huge dinner table, one more delicious than the other, but what got my attention was their eggplant salad.
A roughly chopped roasted eggplants mixed with capers, olive oil, roasted peppers and garlic. The flavour, my friends, the flavour..I want that back 🙂
My friend Bella from Fulfilled wrote an amazing post about this traditional Greek dish, so you can read more about it in here.
Since I couldn’t get my hands on proper capers (those we have in the supermarkets have nothing to do with the true Greek ones), I decided to go for a slow roasted mix of tomatoes and garlic instead.
I seasoned all with fruity olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, thyme, and coarse salt. Mmm..that sweetness..it’s just so good.
One of the secrets my mom taught me about this perfect salad was to always roast the eggplants on the stove, or outside over the open fire, but never in the oven. This will give your salad a nice smoky, sweet and caramelized taste.
Eggplants roasted in the oven lack the smocked taste that make this salad so special.
Also, for a lighter colour of the flesh, peel the charred skin as soon as you remove them from the stove. Don’t worry, you won’t get burnt, just wet your fingers tips while you peel the eggplants, and all will be just fine 🙂
Chop the eggplants with a wooden spoon (using the sharper part) or knife to avoid oxidation, until you have a fine paste. It’s ok if you take same small bites from time to time, as they are so sweet and flavourful that you can’t really stop from eating them raw.
After the tomatoes and the garlic are perfectly roasted and soft, toss them in the eggplant salad and serve it with your favourite sourdough bread. The sweetness of the tomatoes and the flavours of the soft garlic will just make your eggplant salad more irresistible than ever.
Have your family and friends over and just imagine you are by the edge of the Aegean Sea enjoying a nice meze treat.
I’ll leave you now with the recipe.
Let me know in the comments area if you try out this one. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Eggplant Salad with Roasted Garlic & Tomatoes
Eggplant salad is the dish that I grew up with - full of flavours and perfect for spreading over a nice homemade bread.
- 7 medium sized eggplants (~ 1.5 -2 kilos)
- 7-8 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 garlic head
- 6-7 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt or more if needed
Preheat your oven at 170C/350F.
Roast the eggplants on open flame on your oven burner or a bbq grill. Turn them occasionally, and cook until completely tender and well charred on all sides, approx. 1 hour.
While the eggplants are roasting, quarter the tomatoes and half the garlic head, leaving the peel on.
Season the tomatoes with 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Toss them well and let them slowly roast in the oven.
Transfer the roasted eggplants into a colander and clean the charred crust as soon as you remove them from the burner. Wet your fingers tips while you peel the eggplants, but DON'T put the eggplants under water. Let the eggplants drain for about 30 min to avoid a bitter taste of your salad.
Mince the eggplant flesh with a wooden spoon or an eggplant knife (made of wood) until you get a fine paste.
Mix the eggplant salad using a wooden spoon with salt and the remaining olive oil, adding it a tbsp at a time, until you get a smooth mixture.
Chop the roasted tomatoes and squeeze out the garlic from its shell. Mix them with the eggplant salad, adding more salt if needed.
Serve with your favourite bread and a small olive oil drizzle on top of your salad.
The salad can be refrigerated and served up to 3-4 days.