(Photograph by Renee Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

When George Pagonis asks for charred, he means charred. As in so burned it’s barely recognizable. That’s the case, anyway, with eggplant, the main ingredient in the melitzanosalata at Kapnos, the Greek restaurant he co-owns on 14th Street NW in the District. “Hands down, it’s our best-selling spread,” Pagonis says. The cooks go through 75 large eggplants a day, blackening them for a full hour on the wood-fired grill. Anyone who has applied smoke to eggplant knows the alchemy that results.

What’s an indoor (or propane-loving) cook to do? Pagonis scoffed at the thought, but a broiler and a pinch of a decidedly
non-Greek ingredient — Spanish smoked paprika — can achieve an almost-as-good result. It’s not alchemy, but it’s close.

Recipe: Greek Eggplant Dip (Melitzanosalata)

Recipe Finder

More Plate Lab

For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.