The Roasted Eggplant Salad is one of the best appetizers in Balkan cuisine and a beloved Romanian recipe, prepared in every household, especially as a summer and fall dish.
I remember walking the streets of Bucharest on a late summer morning, and the smell of roasted eggplants and peppers would embrace my senses and make me so hungry. Some certain smells and textures are deeply embedded in a country’s cuisine, and the smell of roasted eggplant salad is undoubtedly one of them!
The recipe itself is not difficult, but it might be time-consuming because of the roasting process. Also, there are different methods to roast an eggplant, but I recommend roasting it on a grill for that unique and smoky taste. Some people just put the eggplants in the oven and wait until they’re fully cooked. It’s more convenient, but the flavor won’t be the same.
In Romania, we make a couple of variations of the Eggplant Salad. First, the basic recipe (this one) requires only a couple of ingredients (eggplants, onion, oil), and it has the most authentic taste. Then there’s the mayonnaise eggplant salad and the famous Zacusca (made with tomatoes and mushrooms and preserved for winter).
♦ 4 – 5 large eggplants;
♦ 5-7 tablespoons sunflower oil;
♦ 1 large red onion (or 3-4 shallots)
♦ Salt to taste
♦ 1-2 tomatoes to garnish (optional)
1. Roast the eggplants on the grill. Turn each eggplant on every part until the skin turns brown and is evenly charred. It’s important to set the grill temperature to medium/low; otherwise, the eggplants will burn on the outside and remain uncooked on the inside. And have patience; it takes around 30 minutes for each eggplant to be fully cooked. Enjoy the smoky smell in your kitchen until the eggplants are ready!
2. Let the eggplants cool, and then remove the skin.
3. Let the peeled eggplants drain for 30 minutes. The excessive juice is bitter and not very easy to digest.
4. In the meantime, thinly cut the onion and slice the tomatoes.
5. After the eggplants have drained, chop them on a wooden board using a knife. In Romania, we use a wooden chopper made especially for eggplants. If you like a dip consistency more, you can also put the eggplants in a food processor, but this is not the traditional way of doing the Romanian eggplant salad!
6. In a large bowl, put the chopped eggplants and add the sunflower oil, little by little. Season with salt. Add the chopped onion and save some for garnish.
7. Put the salad in the fridge to rest for one hour.
8. Serve the Roasted Eggplant Salad on bread slices, garnished with tomato slices and chopped red onion. It goes pretty well with sheep cheese (or feta cheese) too!
Pofta buna! Bon appetite!
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