This Romanian eggplant salad spread (Salata de vinete) is a traditional recipe, extremely delicious and easy to make with just 3 ingredients.
This recipe is served at every important event, Christmas, Easter, birthdays and major get-together encounters.
And all summer long Romanians are cooking it and enjoying its flavor!
If you’re a fan of Baba-Ganoush, or even of the Greek version named Melitzanosalata you most likely will fall in love with this recipe too.
Heck, it may even become your favorite eggplant dip. It certainly deserves it.
It’s made with roasted or grilled eggplants.
All that full deliciousness comes from the smoky flavor it gets when the eggplants are grilled on high flame and their skin is burned, almost carbonized.
The best flavor is achieved when they are put on direct flame, cooking them outdoors being more easy to do because of the smoke situation involved.
But I cooked it many times directly on the stove flame, protecting the stove’s surface with aluminum foil to make it easy to clean and make a little less mess.
However, if you have an old grill or a old cooking tray to use just for this smoking eggplant method, that will do fine.
There’s always the roasted in the oven version of cooking this spread, but it will lack that smoky flavor. It’s not quite the same, but I use it to make large batches to freeze and to indulge over the winter.
We are serving this Romanian eggplant salad spreading it on crunchy bread or baguette. And with lots of slices of juicy, sweet, ripe tomatoes and bell peppers on top. Yum!!
With just 3 simple ingredients you can make this marvelous eggplant salad happen.
- Eggplants – make sure they are ripe, without any damages
- Neutral flavor oil – I use sunflower oil
- Onion – some yellow onion finely chopped
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- Ripe tomatoes and bell peppers to serve
🍆 How To Make Romanian Eggplant Salad
1. Grill/roast the eggplants
- Grill the eggplants on high flame. Turn them on all sides so they are cooked really well. They are done when their skin turns dark and they become really soft all over.
- As they are done, place them for a few minutes in a pot to release some of their bitter juice. Put other ones on the grill until you finish all the eggplants.
- Take the cooked eggplants and place them on a piece of aluminum foil to protect the working space. Cut them open with a knife and scoop the interior. You can remove some of the seeds if you wish.
- Ditch the peel and place the eggplants in a colander or on a inclined cutting board to further release their water. Leave them about 20-30 minutes.
For the oven roasting:
- Poke some holes into the eggplants with a fork to avoid them to explode in the oven.
- Place them on a baking sheet and bake them for about 45 min to 1 hour at 375 F.
- Turn them over after 30 min. so they can cook evenly on all sides.
- As you turn and move them, it is possible to release lots of juice, especially if they are large and filled with water like mine. This juice may be caramelizing, even burning in the oven until the full cooking time passes. Not to worry, that smoke is giving them more flavor. Just make sure to fully open up your windows. 🙂
- Take them out of the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes.
- Proceed opening them up with the knife and remove all that beautifully cooked eggplant core to place it in the colander/sieve.
- Let them drain their water for 30 minutes and then you can either proceed with chopping, or let them completely cool off and place them in plastic bags to freeze for the winter.
They can be kept in the freezer up to 6 months.
2. Chop the eggplants
- Start chopping the eggplants with a knife. This is the traditional method I grew up with and the way I like to make this recipe. We have to chop them really well, to smooth out their fiber so they can be emulsified into a nice spread.
- You can also use a food processor and pulse one or two times until smooth.
- Do NOT make it too smooth, we don’t want to obtain a paste. It will ruin the taste and consistency of the spread.
3. Add oil and onion
- After chopping, place them in a large bowl and season with salt to your taste. Start emulsifying the spread pouring in the vegetable oil.
- Stir well with a wooden spoon until the oil is incorporated. Finely chop the onion and add it to the spread.
That’s it! It’s now ready to be served and enjoyed. Prepare your crusty bread!
🥖 Serving Romanian Eggplant Salad
You can spread this eggplant dip on crusty bread, top with tomato and bell pepper slices.
Other accompaniments are pita bread, ciabatta, crackers. Or use carrots, cucumber and celery sticks.
Some freshly chopped parsley or dill and black pepper and you’re in heaven! Guaranteed.
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Other delicious recipes for your family:
- Romanian Sour Cream Garlic Soup (Radauteana) (silky smooth, soul food)
- Russian (Olivier) salad (kind of potato salad on steroids)
- White Beans Dip With Tomato Topping (other delicious dip to try)
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Romanian Eggplant Salad Spread (Salata De Vinete)
- 6-7 medium sized eggplants
- 7 tbsp neutral flavor oil (to taste)
- 1 medium onion
- Grill or roast the eggplants until skin dark/carbonized and really tender all over. Cut them open, scoop the content and place it in the colander to drain the excess water for about 30 min.
- Chop them well with a knife until fairly smooth. Transfer into a bowl, season with salt (to taste) and pour in the oil mixing continuously. Finely chop the onion and mix it in, blending everything well. (Or give them a pulse or two in the food processor along with the salt, oil and onion. Carefully, not to make it too smooth.)
- Serve this dip spreading it over toasted bread, topped with tomato and bell peppers slices. Or the vegan way, dip in with carrots, cucumber, celery sticks.