Family Recipe | Pickled Eggplant
My great grandparents, like many others, immigrated from southern Italy into the united states via Ellis Island in the early 1900s. They left a lot behind but brought with them their rich traditions. This recipe is similar to the one that my great grandmother Rosa Rosa (yes, that was her actual name after she married my grandfather Salvador Rosa) used to make. My Aunt and Father picked up the tradition in recent years and we tend to make this around Christmas time to add to our antipasto spread.
This recipe has won over many eggplant haters over the years and I urge you to try it even if you don’t think you like the purple veggie. There is something about the pickling/marinade that transforms the texture and taste of the humble eggplant. I know it requires a few steps and a waiting period before being able to eat it, but it’s well worth the added labor. Most things are, aren’t they?
- 6 firm medium eggplants (long skinny eggplants like the Little Finger Eggplants work well).
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar (or cider vinegar)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tsp of whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 to 2 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash the eggplants thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt and pat them dry with a paper towel.* Be careful to use only fresh eggplant with no bruises.
- Slice the eggplants into strips about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place the strips in a colander and sprinkle with salt, layering as you go.
- Place the colander on a bowl. Place a dish or pot lid inside the colander and weigh down with something heavy. Let the eggplant sit and “bleed” for 45 minutes- 1 hour. The salt helps remove excess water and starts to transform the texture of the eggplant.
- Squeeze the eggplant with your hands to remove any remaining excess water. Do not rinse.
- Transfer the eggplant to a pot. Pour 1 1/4 cups of vinegar and 2 1/2 cups of water over the eggplant. Bring to a simmer, and as soon as you see bubbles appear remove from heat and allow the pot to cool with the eggplant in it.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine sliced garlic, minced parsley, oregano, peppercorns, mustard seeds bay leaves, 1 1/2 cups of olive oil, and the remaining 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix well.
- Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the excess water out of the eggplant and carefully mix it into the bowl of other ingredients.
- Now it’s time to pack your jars (make sure your jars are extra clean, perhaps even pour hot water into them to sanitize them). Pack the eggplant, herbs, and spices into the jars. Run a butter knife along the inside of the jar edge to remove any air bubbles. Leave about 1 inch of space above the veggies.
- Top off the jars with any olive oil left in the bowl or with new olive oil (still leaving 1 inch of headspace). The goal is to submerge the eggplant but not overfill the jar.
- Place the top on the jar and refrigerate for 24 hours- 4 days. Technically they are best after about 4 days, but you can eat them early if you simply can’t wait.
- Eggplant should last up to a month in the fridge.