This eggplant relish meze or dip recipe is the perfect summer side dish. It’s loaded in fresh and colorful vegetables. No matter how much you make, it’s never enough because it’s always gone so fast!!
Mediterranean, Balkan or Eastern European Origins?
As most of my readers know, I grew up in Albania and that’s where I learned how to make this Eggplant Relish. Albania is in the Mediterranean but it is also part of Balkan region and it used to be considered Eastern European for a while but now it’s South East Europe.
Our region has so many eggplant mezes or dips and they have similarities but also differences. Take for example Ajvar, a red pepper and eggplant dip famous in Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia etc. Ajvar is made with eggplant and red peppers.
Then there’s the Italian Kaponata, the Romanian Zacusca, the Russian eggplant relish as well as plenty Middle Eastern eggplant dips like Baba Ganoush that have made their way into our cuisine as well. Since our region has so many eggplant dishes, it’s no surprise that a lot of them have overlaps or new recipes pop up all the time.
It seems like a lot of eggplant dips recipes, but if you love eggplant like we do you’ll really enjoy all of them:). Check out my Stuffed Eggplant recipe for an eggplant dinner recipe!
How to Roast the Vegetables?
Our homemade version of this eggplant relish, it’s made with roasted eggplant and green pepper. Usually we roast them whole. Then peel the green pepper and dice. Also, we scoop the flesh of roasted eggplant with a spoon. I made a little video to show how we did this dip back home.
A more modern version, requires eggplant to be cut in cube shapes and roasted in a baking tray drizzled with olive oil. Either way, you’ll get similar results. I like roasting the vegetables whole though as I’m used to making the dip that way.
Tips & Notes
This is a forgiving recipe and can be adapted to taste. We usually don’t make it by weight as much as we use whole quantities as to use up the vegetables. For example, 2 eggplants, 1 green pepper, 2 tomatoes etc. Then you adjust onions, olive oil and lemon with herbs to taste. Here are some of my tips for best results:
- Don’t skimp on olive oil!! Eggplant and olive oil are a match made in heaven. Good olive oil here makes a big difference.
- If you can find small eggplants, those will be more tasty than the bigger ones. This is an issue if you live in USA, across Europe you mostly find the small eggplant types called differently aubergines.
- Some people don’t mind the eggplant seeds. They don’t affect the taste in my opinion but texture is somewhat different so I remove the eggplant seeds after roasting.
- Make sure you refrigerate the dip before serving, it has to be served chilled.
- 2 eggplants
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes tomatoes on the vine
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 5 garlic cloves add more if needed
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch flat parsley, divided used in dip and garnishing
- 5 tbsps olive oil extra virgin
- 0.5 tsp sea salt adjust to taste
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- Cut eggplants in half. Lay them in a baking tray face up. Place bell pepper in baking tray too. Drizzle olive oil over all the vegetables.
- Bake at 400 F, middle rack in the oven for about 15 minutes. Rotate the pepper and continue baking. At about 20-25 minutes remove pepper, flip the eggplant halves carefully and continue baking for another 30 minutes.
- Let both pepper and eggplant cool enough to be handled by hand. Peel pepper, then slice and dice in small pieces. Add to a bowl.
- Scoop the flesh of each eggplant half, remove the seeds where very visible. Then slice and dice the same way. Place on the bowl over pepper.
- Dice tomatoes, onions and mince garlic. Add the desired amount in the bowl over eggplant and pepper. Chop about half a cup of flat parsley and add as well.
- Squeeze 1 lemon over the ingredients in the bowl. Add about 3 tbsps of olive oil. Finally add half a teaspoon of sea salt.
- Mix everything carefully. Taste and adjust lemon, olive oil, salt as needed. Then chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with fresh flat parsley and serve with pita bread:). Enjoy!
- Make the dip spicy by adding a spicy pepper to the roasted veggies. Alternatively you can add crushed red pepper.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image to your boards in Pinterest. Let me know in comments if you have any questions or feel free to tag me in social media with your rendition of the recipe:). Thank you for reading my blog!