I was talking to my Aunt Fran recently and she mentioned that she wishes she would have cooked more with her mother and written down her recipes. She did not have many of them, and one of the dishes she misses the most is her mother’s pickled eggplant, a condiment she made and then stored in the refrigerator. It was used as part of an antipasto platter and was also delicious when added to cold cut sandwiches. When we lived in upstate New York one of my husband’s students introduced us to a deli that had the most delicious pickled eggplant I have ever eaten: vinegary, firm, not mushy, and very well seasoned.
We have an abundance of fresh eggplant in our garden this summer, so I decided to make a batch of pickled eggplant. It needs to sit for 4 days to marinate before eating, and you should keep the eggplant covered in oil, so when you take any from the jar, replace the oil to keep it topped up. It is delicious on its own straight out of the jar, but I am most enjoying it on a piece of grilled baguette, drizzled with a little of the pickling oil, a slice of fresh tomato from the yard, and a bit of salt. You can also pickle zucchini which is crisp and delicious. The recipe is adapted from Preserving Our Italian Heritage published by the Sons of Italy Florida Foundation.
1 large or 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into thin French fry-size strips = 2 cups
3/4-1 tsp. kosher salt
4 large cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 hot red chili pepper
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
2/3 c. white wine vinegar
1/2-3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
Place 2 cups of eggplant strips in a bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the eggplant. Toss and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain any liquid that may have accumulated. Add garlic, chili pepper, oregano, and vinegar. Toss to mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes, then fill a clean, sterilized pint jar with the eggplant and vinegar mixture. Press eggplant down slightly. Pour enough olive oil over the eggplant to fill the jar to the bottom of the rim. Wipe rim clean. Place lid on jar. Refrigerate 4 days before opening. Makes 1 pint. Will keep three to four weeks in the refrigerator.