Greek Foods that Feature Eggplants
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In Greek cuisine, the eggplant takes center stage in many dishes. With it’s shiny, colorful skin and soft insides, this is an ideal vegetable to add to the Greek table. In fact, there are so many dishes that include it that it can be difficult to select your favorite! Eggplants in the United States usually have a deep purple-colored skin. There are several different varieties in Greece and although the color of the skin can differ (eggplants in Greece are often white or light purple in color), the flavor and function are basically the same. Here’s a list of some of the dishes that are common in Greek cuisine that use eggplants.
Melitzanosalata, or eggplant dip, is a common item on restaurants, tavernas, and cafes throughout Greece. It’s typically served as part of a meze spread or appetizer and used as a dip for bread. It is typically made by mixing roasted eggplants, sauteed onions, and herbs like fresh parsley together. Those who like a smooth consistency can use a food processor or blender to make it. Otherwise, the traditional method of using a mortar and pestle is used to give it a smoother consistency.
One of the favorite dishes in Greek cooking, the vegetarian and meat-based versions of moussaka are equally as delicious. In it, layers of sliced eggplant are combined with ground meat (this is omitted in the vegetarian versions) and then smothered with a creamy bechamel sauce and baked until cooked to perfection. Everyone has a slightly different way of making it, but the basic idea is always the same.
While moussaka is usually made in a large baking dish, melitzanes papoutsakia is a little more delicate. In this dish, small eggplants are cut in half and then their seeds are scooped out and then stuffed with a savory mixture of onions, tomatoes, and Greek cheese that melts well, like kefalotiri. You can also add some ground meat that has been browned, as desired. The eggplants are then arranged in a single layer in a baking dish and bechamel sauce is ladled over it just before the dish is placed in the oven for baking.
One of the simplest and most comforting ways to cook garden fresh eggplant is to make melitzanes tiganites. For this dish, all you need to do is slice the eggplant into little rounds, dredge each piece in flour that has been seasoned in salt and pepper, and fry them in some high quality olive oil. Add a little bit more salt (Greek sea salt if you have it on hand) and a sprinkling of black pepper and let it cool for a minute or two before you eat it.
Even though the appearance of eggplant differs depending on where you are, the flavor and texture are both still the same. In fact, in Greece, this is one of the most popular garden vegetables and there are several common and beloved dishes that include it, such as moussaka.
Categorized in: Greek Cooking
This post was written by Greek Boston