You already know I had too many eggplants on my hands this summer. The eggplant “meatballs” recipe I featured in August was my most popular yet! Well, our garden didn’t stop producing them for some time, so we had to use another way to capture all the eggplant goodness we had. What better way than to jar them as antipasto so we can enjoy them all winter! This eggplant antipasto recipe comes from my husband’s family who used to make this often. We’re happy to take up the tradition again. The result is tasty and a great part of an antipasto platter (my favourite!).
Dried, crushed hot pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and peel the Sicilian eggplants. Cut into slices, then into match sticks about 1/4 inch wide. Place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Toss and continue to sprinkle with salt until all the eggplant has salt on it. The salt will draw the water out of the eggplant, but you need pressure to also help with this. Place a plate on top of the eggplants that fits tightly to the sides of the colander, and a heavy object on top of that plate. A large tin of tomatoes would be perfect for this. Place the colander in a sink or over a pot to catch the water that drains out.
The eggplants need to sit in the colander for 6 to 8 hours. As they compress, you’ll need to change to a smaller plate to ensure the weight stays directly on the eggplant. After 8 hours, remove the eggplant from the colander and place into a bowl and cover completely with vinegar. Let the eggplant sit in the vinegar bath for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, drain the vinegar from the eggplant. You’ll see the eggplant now look like “worms” – many Italian kids see them that way! If you have a lot of seeds with your eggplant, you can shake them in colander or in the basket of salad spinner to get the seeds to fall out into a sink or bowl.
Once prepared from the vinegar, toss the eggplant with the oregano, basil, garlic powder and hot peppers as desired to your taste. Use a few tablespoons of oil as you are tossing to ensure all the eggplants get a bit a flavour. Pack into sterilized jars, pressing the eggplant in to remove all the air and fill with olive oil until all the eggplant is covered. The oil should reach 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. Seal with a top and ring and place in a cool area. The eggplant is ready to serve after resting in the oil for 2 months.
It’s a lengthy process, yes, but well worth it. It you love antipasto platters, this is a sure way to get a fresh tasting, organic ingredient to your table.