Melitzanosalata is a Greek appetizer made from roasting whole eggplants, pureeing it, then adding garlic, olive oil and lemon juice! It is a simple yet delicious small plate tapas dish that everyone will love!
Melitzanosalata is a traditional appetizer served in many tavernas in Greece. It is a tasty spread or as some call it, an "eggplant salad" that is often served cold or at room temperature with many other small plates (and lots of pita bread) for dipping!
Eggplant in Greek is called "melitzana" and salad in Greek is "salata" so putting both together literally means eggplant salad. I like to think of it more as a dip or 'spread' than a salad but who's judging? This appetizer is great for parties because it's very healthy, easy to make, inexpensive and will please even your vegan friends!
Other common names for this dip are baba ghanoush, aubergin dip or eggplant "paste".
Have you tried my delicious vegetarian eggplant sandwich yet? It can be made vegan too!
What is the difference between melizanosalata and baba ghanoush?
Baba ghanoush is very similar to this recipe but melitzanosalata has NO tahini in it. Tahini is a sesame paste. Personally, I'm not a huge fan. I like to think of this dip as a 'Greek style' hummus but BETTER!
Making Your Dip
Being Greek, I have had my fair share of Greek salads and spreads. Most often, I'm able to enjoy this authentic roasted eggplant dip at our family parties thanks to my aunt! Her recipe is delicious so I asked her for her secret and she offered me her recipe!
I did tweak the recipe just a bit by adding fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley, although it didn't need much tweaking. The lemon juice helps keep the eggplant from turning brown AND adds a touch of acidity and brightness which I think it needs. And the parsley adds a pop of color and freshness!
It is so simple to prepare! Keep in mind that most people use whole roasted eggplants, However, for this recipe, to save time, I cut my eggplant in half lengthwise and roasted it that way! Same yummy results!
- Pierce or poke your eggplants with a fork then roast whole in the oven for about an hour (this is usually done whole). Alternatively, you can grill your eggplants for a smokey flavor.
- Allow eggplants to cool and scoop out the pulp.
- Squeeze out any excess water or liquids using a colander or strainer.
- Chop up pulp with a knife so it is "mashed". If you want more of a 'chunky' eggplant dip, give it a rough chop.
- Add minced garlic, lemon juice and parsley and mix. Add any leftover olive oil from the pan for more flavor!
- Allow flavors to meld for about an hour.
- Serve cold or room temperature with warm grilled pita bread.
How To Customize Your Dip
There are a few different things you can add to your eggplant dip to up the "flavor ante"! Here are some popular ingredients:
- Grill your eggplant to get a smokey flavor in your dip
- Add some spices like paprika, chili powder, cumin or cayenne
- Add some red wine vinegar
- Add some other fresh herbs like dill or thyme
- Add some Worcestershire. (It is my secret ingredient in a lot of dishes!)
- Add some liquid smoke. (This stuff allows you to get that smokey flavor without touching a grill.)
- Add tomatoes or roasted peppers
- Add some feta cheese
- Add chopped olives
- Add shredded onion
Should you peel your eggplants before roasting them?
No! When you roast them long enough, the skin will be very easy to peel off! I don't recommend leaving the skin on otherwise the texture of skin will take away from the smoothness of the dip.
How can I take away the bitterness of the eggplant?
Eggplant has a tendency to be very bitter and can ruin your dish if not cooked/baked properly. I like to use salt to remove any bitterness prior to cooking. Here are some other great tips for preventing bitter eggplant!
Can I freeze Melitzanosalata?
Yes! It may be a little watery but it will still be yummy. Just make sure you seal the container very well. What I do is place the dip in a plastic container. Add a layer of plastic wrap directly over top of the dip. Then seal it closed with the lid. It will help prevent freezer-burn. You should always defrost dips in your refrigerator overnight.
What can I serve with this dip?
The best and most traditional thing to serve with this eggplant dish is PITA BREAD! Because this dip is more of a 'spread', you can serve the dish with a small spoon if you're expecting company.
Here is a great recipe with a video for how to make your OWN pita bread!!
Almost all the restaurants in Greece, or even in the Mediterranean, serve grilled or charred pita bread OR crusty bread with their dips. The grilled pita bread is my absolute favorite. If you can find a good brand, snag it and freeze it in bulk!!
Can you make this in advance?
Yes! In fact, I recommend it so the flavors have a chance to infuse. You can make it 1-3 days ahead of time and keep it stored in a sealed container. Try making it at least a few hours ahead of time, if not, the night before serving works well.
Add This Eggplant Dip To A Crowd-Pleasing Greek Mezze Platter!
"Mezze" means small dishes in Greek. A fun thing I love to do is add other items with this dip to create heavy appetizer spread or even small meal. Just serve it alongside a few other Greek dips to keep the flavors in the 'Mediterranean ballpark'.
Here are some other dips I recommend serving with it:
Make sure to check out my Ultimate Greek Meze Platter where you can add this dip and many other Greek spreads!
Melitzanosalata (Greek Roasted Eggplant Dip)
- 2 Medium Eggplants ((about 2 ½ lbs))
- ¼ Cup Olive Oil
- 2-3 Small Garlic Cloves Minced ((or 1-2 large))
- 2 ½ Tbsp. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley
- *Salt and Pepper to taste
Charred Pita Bread Triangles (for dipping)
- Preheat your oven to 425° F.
- Cut eggplants in half and place them on a baking sheet. Prick the outside of each with a fork a 6-7 times. Drizzle entire eggplant with olive oil and leave them cut-side down on baking sheet. Cover baking sheet with foil and bake for 45 min-1 hour. (You will know they're ready when you can easily pierce them with a fork). You really can't "overcook" your eggplant for this recipe so don't worry about leaving them in too long.
- When eggplants are cool enough to handle (about 20 minutes) remove skin and chop up with a knife until you have the consistency you prefer. **If you want your dip to be very smooth, you can simply add all of your ingredients to a food processor and blend together.
- If not using a food processor, add your eggplant, parsley, lemon juice and garlic to a large bowl and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to your liking! (Eggplant is very bland on its own so don't be afraid to add a good amount of salt!)
- For best results, allow flavors to infuse for at least an hour in the fridge before serving. Serve with charred or grilled pita or naan bread on the side!