THE Eggplant Spread
In Romanian we call it 'salatã de vignette', which translates to eggplant salad. But in reality it's not a salad at all.
If you're Romanian and a close friend or family member, then there's at least one thing you know about me: I freaking LOVE this spread. Like LOVE love.
Before I learned how to make this I would have my mom and my grandma prep enormous amounts of it for when I would come home to Romania to visit, and I would be so excited about it that it would be the very first thing I ate when I got off the plane.
The funny thing is you don't even need to like eggplant that much: I certainly don't!
Truth is there never was enough for me: no matter how much they made I would devour it in like 3 days. So it just got to the point where my mom had to have bags of it frozen in her freezer, waiting for my arrival.
Well, once I grew up (aka 2 months ago) I learned how to make it on my own.
And now my house perpetually smells of roasted eggplant, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tip #1: I STRONGLY recommend watching my Instagram video alongside reading the recipe so that you get a better picture of the steps. While this is a super simple recipe, it does take one or two tries to really get it perfect, so don’t be discouraged if you mess up an eggplant...or two.
Tip #2: the most common way to mess up the eggplant is by undercooking it. Don’t be afraid when you see the skin burn up a bit, or even if there’s some smoke coming out of the eggplant -it’s normal! Make sure the eggplant is soft to the touch throughout before removing it from the flame, or you’ll have an undercooked eggplant on your hands
3-4 tbsp avocado oil
Salt to taste
You will need:
Wooden or plastic tongs
Rinse eggplant and pat dry;
Set up your stove top by placing tinfoil around the burner you are going to use, then place your stove’s grate on top (make sure the tinfoil doesn’t cover the igniter or you won’t be able to turn the burner on, so adjust the tinfoil if needed);
Turn heat on medium high and place eggplant directly on the flame. It’s best to start with the thicker end first, and then move up to the thinner part as it cooks through;
Keep flipping the eggplant so that all sides are cooked -use the tongs if it’s too hot to touch. The eggplant skin will start looking wrinkly at first, then almost as if it’s a bit burned (don’t worry, this is normal);
Keep flipping the eggplant until skin cracks off and until eggplant is soft to the touch. You want to make sure the entire eggplant is cooked, so check it’s softness throughout;
Once it’s done place the eggplant in a bowl. Have the other bowl handy and filled with cold water so you can clean your fingers while peeling the eggplant;
Peel the skin off the eggplant; make sure you get ALL the skin off -we don’t want to be eating that burned part;
Slice the eggplant top off with a wooden spoon. It’s VERY important to only use wooden tools or the eggplant will oxidize and turn a darker color;
Slice eggplant open by cutting it the long way down the middle with the wooden spoon;
Place eggplant on a cutting board and prop it up so it is at an incline OR place in a strainer. Leave to drain for 10-15 minutes
Start mashing the eggplant using your wooden spoon (or, as I like to say, beat your eggplant to a pulp 😂). Do this for at least 5 minutes until eggplant reaches a paste like texture;
Place paste in a bowl and slowly add salt and avocado oil, while stirring the eggplant vigorously. Be careful not to add too much oil at once or it will separate;
Serve on toast or with crackers (I love eating mine with Flackers, they’re delicious)