In Greek: μελιτζανοσαλάτα, pronounced meh-leed-zah-no-sah-LAH-tah
I have friends who try to save time and make this in a blender or with a hand mixer, but it's very easy as is and gives a much more authentic texture and taste when mixed by hand. The key to a great tasting result is a well-charred eggplant. If possible, cook it over a wood-burning fire or grill with wood chips added.
Pierce the eggplant with a fork and char on the grill, or over an open flame (alternatively, broil for 10-15 minutes) until the eggplant turns black and is very soft. Set to cool and drain on a rack with paper towels underneath.
As soon as it can be handled, peel by hand (the skin will come off easily), and transfer to a bowl. Chop the pulp into small pieces with a knife, and mash with a fork. With a wooden spoon, stir in oil and vinegar slowly, alternating between them, until well blended.
Stir in garlic, salt, and pepper.
Serve chilled or at room temperature, with pita wedges, slices of crusty bread, and/or fresh vegetables garnished with black olives and a sprig of parsley. This goes well with salty cheeses and fish mezethes like anchovies.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups