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Romanian Eggplant Salad Recipe (Salata de Vinete)

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Bring a generous dose of zesty, sour, and lusciously creamy eggplant-based goodness to your spread or dinner table with our eggplant salad recipe, and enjoy this Romanian favorite spread on soft bread, with roasted vegetables, and plenty of other delicious combinations.

Eggplant Salad.

Salata de Vinete Recipe

The humble eggplant may not ignite any culinary desires when raw, but when cooked well and mixed with the right ingredients, it can unleash a truly unique and pleasantly sweet and sour flavor that can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

Honest, hearty ingredients, packed dining tables, and feeding large groups of family and friends are at the very core of Eastern European culture, especially in Romania, Moldova, and Hungary. So if you’re ready to add a salad packed with flavor to a spread, feast, or buffet you’re preparing, salata de vinete will no doubt be right up your street.

Eggplant Salad

What is Salata de Vinete?

Very simply, salata de vinete, or eggplant salad, is a traditional Romanian appetizer of cooked and mashed aubergine with a handful of other ingredients.

While synonymous with Romanian cuisine, you will also find this side dish or spread in many other Eastern European cuisines, including the likes of Moldovan cuisine and Hungarian cuisine.

As mentioned at the start of the article, salata de vinete very much acts as a side or appetizer to plenty of both vegetable and meat-based dishes, and can also be enjoyed on its own, especially with something to spread it on.

Recipe Ingredients

To make salata de vinete, or eggplant salad, you need to first gather the following ingredients:

Eggplant Salad ingredients on a wooden board.
  • Eggplant/Aubergine – 3 medium-large aubergines
  • Onion – 1 small or 1/2 medium white onion
  • Lemon Juice – 1 lemon or 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Mustard – 1 tsp
  • Sunflower Oil (or any neutral-tasting oil) – 3 tbsp

Step-by-Step Instructions

Note: for reference, in our 3-step process for making salata de vinete, we have listed multiple options for step 1 (the cooking process – gas stove, oven, and grill) and step 3 (the mixing stage – traditional and modern).

Step 1 – Cook the eggplants/aubergines on the gas stove, in the oven, or on the grill outside (if you have one).

Whatever method you choose, you have to first prep the eggplant by washing it, patting it dry, and poking holes in the eggplants with a fork or a knife.

Poking holes with a fork in the eggplants/aubergines for eggplant salad.

Gas Stove Method

On medium-high heat, on the gas stove, place the eggplant directly on the flame and cook for 10 minutes, turning the eggplant every 1-2 minutes.

Charring the eggplant on the gas stove.

You will get a beautifully charred texture and flavor if you’re using this method. And if you cook all 3 eggplants on 3 hobs at the same time, it will only take you 10 minutes to cook all the eggplants.

Charred eggplant.

Oven Method

If you’re using the oven method, first preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Then roast the eggplants in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Eggplants in the oven.

This method doesn’t give you a nice charred flavor but it is easy to just put the eggplant in the oven, set a timer, and do something else while keeping an eye on the eggplants. It also works if you don’t have a gas stove. Make sure you have an oven drip tray under the eggplants, catching any juices so they don’t end up on the bottom of the oven.

Oven-roasted whole aubergines.

Grill Method

If you have an outdoor grill, roast the eggplant on the grill over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until fully cooked.

Step 2 – Next, drain the liquid from the cooked eggplant.

To do this, first cut the eggplants in half.

Cooked eggplants cut in half.

Then, scoop the insides out with a spoon and gather them in a strainer.

Scooping the eggplant flesh.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and let it sit in the strainer for about 15 minutes. The salt is helping remove the moisture and bitterness from the eggplants. However, nowadays, most eggplants are not bitter so this is not a huge concern in itself.

Eggplants/aubergines scooped in a strainer.

Step 3 – Chop and mix everything.

Traditional Method

Chop the eggplant, dice the onion, and add them to a bowl. To the bowl with the eggplant, add the mustard, lemon juice, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. This will give you a more traditional eggplant salad/dip, as shown below.

Roughly chopped eggplant salad.

Modern Method

Add the eggplant, roughly chopped onion, mustard, lemon juice, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt to a food processor. Then, blend until you get the desired consistency. Your salad should instead look like the one below.

Eggplant salad topped with oil and parsley.

We prefer this method as you get a much smoother, melt-in-your-mouth consistency. This method also gives you a salad or dip similar to that of baba ganoush (minus the tahini), for example.

Salata de vinete.

Whether you prepare it grilled, baked, charred, chopped, or blended, one thing is for certain: this eggplant salad is very simple to make and makes the humble eggplant the star of the show.

Serving Suggestions

Great as a side, a dip, or enjoyed as is in its own right, our eggplant salad recipe is a wonderful way to bring a little Eastern European magic to your next gathering or dinner party.

Bread – Served it with grilled sliced bread and let your guests spread it over the top.

Grilled Meat – Eggplant salad compliments the heat of spiced grilled meat well, be it steaks, skewered meats, or a whole chicken.

Fresh Salads – Enjoy it as a side with chopped greens, tomatoes, onion, and other ingredients in fresh salads.

Salata de vinete.

Salata de Vinete/Eggplant Salad Recipe Card

Yield: 4

Romanian Eggplant Salad

Romanian Eggplant Salad
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large eggplants/aubergines
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 lemon or 3-4 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 3 tbsp sunflower Oil (or any neutral-tasting oil)

Instructions

Prep the eggplants by washing them, patting them dry, and poking holes in the eggplants with a fork or a knife. Then, cook the eggplants/aubergines on the gas stove, in the oven, or on the grill outside (if you have one).

  • Gas Stove Method: On medium-high heat, on the gas stove, place the eggplant directly on the flame and cook for 10 minutes, turning the eggplant every 1-2 minutes. You will get a beautifully charred texture and flavor if you’re using this method. And if you cook all 3 eggplants on 3 hobs at the same time, it will only take you 10 minutes to cook all the eggplants.
  • Oven Method: If you’re using the oven method, first preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Then roast the eggplants in the oven for about 35 minutes.
  • Grill Method: If you have an outdoor grill, roast the eggplant on the grill over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until fully cooked.

Next, drain the liquid from the cooked eggplant. To do this, first cut the eggplants in half. Then, scoop the insides out with a spoon and gather them in a strainer. Add 1/2 tsp salt and let it sit in the strainer for about 10-15 minutes.

Chop and mix everything.

  • Traditional Method: Chop the eggplant, dice the onion, and add them to a bowl. To the bowl with the eggplant, add the mustard, lemon juice, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. This will give you a more traditional eggplant salad/dip, as shown below.
  • Modern Method: Add the eggplant, roughly chopped onion, mustard, lemon juice, oil, and 1/2 tsp salt to a food processor. Then, blend until you get the desired consistency. Your salad should instead look like the one below. We prefer this method as you get a much smoother, melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

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Romanian eggplant salad overhead photo

Contributor: Efimia is a Moldovan-Romanian teacher and passionate home cook, well-versed in Eastern European cuisine, who has been feeding loved ones with her honest and delicious home cooking for the best part of 40 years and counting.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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