Romanian eggplant salad (Salata de Vinete)

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Today we’re diving into a dish that’s simple, delicious, and universally appealing: Salata de Vinete. It’s basically an eggplant salad, but once you taste it, you’ll understand why it deserves its own name. This classic Eastern European recipe is a crowd-pleaser that pairs perfectly with an array of dishes, or stands strong on its own as a satisfying, flavorful spread.

The Roots: Where Does Salata de Vinete Come From?

Salata de Vinete is a staple in Romanian cuisine, but variations of it can be found sprinkled throughout the Balkans and even in parts of the Middle East. This dish truly reflects the utility and resourcefulness of traditional cooking, transforming simple ingredients into a sumptuous experience. Originally, it served as a go-to dish for gatherings, an easy and affordable way to feed a crowd.

The Eggplant: Multiple Ways to Cook It

While the recipe calls for baking the eggplant, there are a few alternative methods to consider, depending on your kitchen setup and personal preference.

Baking

This is the standard method. Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F) and bake the eggplants for 40-50 minutes. Make sure to pierce them with a fork to prevent any oven disasters. Baking the eggplants brings out a soft, smoky flavor.

Grilling

If you’ve got a grill and want a more robust smoky flavor, grilling is your best bet. Place the eggplants directly on a medium-hot grill for about 20-25 minutes, turning them occasionally.

Roasting on Open Flame

You can also roast the eggplants directly over an open flame if you have a gas stove. The skin will char, but don’t worry—that’s what you’re going for. Once you remove the skin, you’ll get a fantastic, fire-roasted flavor.

The Recipe: How to Make Salata de Vinete

Ingredients:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Eggplants
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Paprika powder for garnish
  • Chili flakes for garnish

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  • Preparation Phase: Preheat your oven to a sturdy 200°C (390°F). While it’s heating, take a fork and pierce your eggplants a couple of times. This allows steam to escape during cooking and avoids any oven mishaps.
How to make Romanian Eggplant salad (Salata de vinete)
  • Bake the Eggplants: Arrange the eggplants on an oven-safe tray. Slide the tray into your preheated oven and let them bake for 40-50 minutes. Check for softness by lightly pressing the eggplant; it should give easily under the pressure.
  • Cooling Time: Remove the tray from the oven and let the eggplants cool down to room temperature. This not only makes them easier to handle, but it also allows the flavors to settle in.
  • Scoop & Drain: Slice each eggplant open lengthwise and scoop out the soft flesh. Put this flesh into a colander for about 15-20 minutes to drain off the excess water.
How to make Romanian Eggplant Salad (Salata de vinete)
  • Chop and Mix: Take the drained eggplant flesh and chop it finely. Add it to a large mixing bowl, followed by your finely chopped onions.
How to make Romanian Eggplant Salad (Salata de vinete)
How to make Romanian Eggplant Salad (Salata de vinete)
  • Cream It Up: Add mayonnaise to the mixture. Blend it well, making sure every bit of eggplant gets a good coating.
  • Seasoning is Key: Add salt to your liking. Give it a thorough mix to evenly distribute the salt throughout the mixture.
  • Chill and Marinate: For best results, place the salad in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This allows all the flavors to integrate seamlessly.
How to make Romanian Eggplant salad (Salata de vinete)

How to Serve

Toasted Bread: Elevate the experience by serving it alongside grilled bread slices, allowing your guests to slather it on as they please.

Garden-Fresh Sides: Consider serving this dish adjacent to a freshly prepared salad of crisp greens, ripe tomatoes, sliced onions, and other fresh produce.

How to make Romanian Eggplant salad (Salata de vinete)

Romanian Eggplant Salad (Salata de vinete)

This Salata de Vinete recipe is a flavorful and satisfying Eastern European eggplant salad, perfect for gatherings or as a versatile side dish.
Servings 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Baking Tray
  • Fork
  • Colander
  • Chopping Board and Knife
  • Large mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 4.4 lbs (2 kg) Eggplants
  • 3 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Paprika powder for garnish
  • Chili flakes for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Prep and Preheat: Start by preheating your oven to 200°C (390°F). While waiting, pierce the skin of the eggplants several times using a fork to allow steam to escape during baking.
  • Bake the Eggplants: Place the pierced eggplants on a baking tray and bake for about 40-50 minutes. You'll know they're done when their skin appears wrinkled and they feel soft to the touch.
  • Cool and Drain: After removing them from the oven, let the eggplants cool to room temperature. Slice them open lengthwise and scoop out the soft flesh, placing it in a colander to drain for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • Chop and Combine: Finely chop the drained eggplant flesh and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add in the finely chopped onion.
  • Add Creaminess: Incorporate the mayonnaise into the mixture, ensuring the eggplant and onion are well-coated.
  • Season and Stir: Add salt according to your preference and mix until well combined.
  • Optional Chill Time: For optimal flavor, cover and chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld together.
  • Garnish and Serve: Before serving, garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and chili flakes.
  • Serve: Serve this dish as a standalone or as a spread on slices of grilled bread.

Notes

The dish can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Best served chilled.
Calories: 175kcal
Cost: $5
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Spread
Cuisine: Eastern European, Romanian
Keyword: Creamy Eggplant Spread, Eggplant Appetizer, Flavorful Eastern European Recipe, Healthy and Delicious, Romanian Eggplant Salad, Salata de Vinete
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