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Greek Smoky Aubergine Salad (Αγιορείτικη Μελιτζανοσαλάτα)

Updated: May 21, 2023

Prep: 30 min


Aubergine (or eggplant) is at its best during the summer months and makes it to the top of the choices list for some of the best Mediterranean recipes. From Greek Moussaka or stuffed aubergine “Papoutsaki” (literally meaning ‘little shoe’) to the amazing Italian Aubergine Parmigiana or Lebanese Baba Ganoush with tahini. Such a versatile vegetable, used by so many cuisines around the Mediterranean, and that you can eat it in many different ways: chargrilled, baked, marinated in a salad, stir-fried, in a stew, you name it. Aubergines are high in fibre and low in fat and therefore recommended for any diet, including vegan.


Origin

This specific dish in this post is inspired by my travels to the holy Mount Athos in Greece. The sacred land of the Orthodox world, inhabited only by self-sustained monks who cultivate their food from seed to plate. A really interesting place to visit (especially spring or autumn) and spend a few days with the monks, get to know how they worship their veggies like God and how they cook unique heavenly recipes. Greeks love everything aubergine, and smoky aubergine is a favorite snack in barbeques. Grill the aubergine to give it smokiness, puree with your fork, mix it with mashed garlic, olive oil and vinegar, and voila, you’ve got one of the nation’s favorite salads ready to be eaten (no baking or cooking involved)!


Recipe

The classic aubergine salad you find in all Greek taverns is the pureed version I just described above, sometimes with the addition of crumbled feta cheese and/or chopped tomato. This one here is the monk’s edition from Mount Athos (Agio Oros, hence “Agioritiki” –pronounced “Ayoritiki”) which is purely vegan. The difference to the tavern version is this one’s served chopped (not pureed) and with the addition of roasted red pepper and parsley. Bear in mind Orthodox Christian holy books recommend a total of 180–200 days of fasting per year. The faithful (let alone the monks) are advised to avoid meat, fish, milk, and dairy products every Wednesday and Friday throughout the year, making the Ayioritiki cuisine a vegan's paradise for nearly half the year!


Ingredients

  • 3 Aubergines (around 500gr)

  • 1 roasted red pepper

  • 1/2 garlic clove

  • 10ml balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 unwaxed lemon, juice and zest

  • A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • Some feta cheese crumbles (skip if vegan) and sesame seeds for serving


Method

  • Pierce the aubergines with a fork and roast them over your gas stove’s open flame for around 10 minutes, turning them around every 1-2 min until they are charred evenly and soft (press them with a fork all over to test the softness).

  • If you have no gas stove, roast them in the oven for 35-40 min in 200c (180 fan). Note the flavor won’t be as smoky in such a case.

  • Let them cool down for 10 min. While you’re waiting, finely chop the fresh parsley and red pepper in small cubes.

  • Cut the aubergines lengthwise in half and spoon out the flesh. Squeeze the flesh (in a towel or cloth) to remove as much of the juice as possible (it’s kind of bitter) and finely chop it.

  • In a bowl, toss the chopped aubergine with red peppers, parsley, mashed garlic clove, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, and olive oil, and stir until everything is well combined.


  • Adjust with salt and pepper to your taste and serve with sesame seeds on top. I like it also with crumbled feta on top ;-)


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