Melanzane sotto aceto (pickled eggplant)
My preserved eggplant is a great pantry staple, perfect with cured meats and hard cheese, and it really dresses up an antipasto. I also love it in a simple sandwich with shavings of grana padano. I add banana peppers, basil and chilli.
Eggplant recipes: Melanzane sottoacetto with banana peppers and chilli. Photo: Marina Oliphant
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8 medium eggplants
200g salt flakes
600ml-800ml white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
4 banana peppers, seeds removed, sliced finely
20 grinds pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
5 sprigs basil, leaves picked
3 red chillies, such as milder long red chillies, split (not seeded)
Equal amounts vegetable and extra virgin olive oil to top jars (perhaps 500ml-800ml)
1. Peel the eggplants using a vegetable peeler and slice lengthways into 1cm slices. Cut the slices into strips about 1cm wide. Place into a bowl and toss well with the salt. Place in a colander, cover with a plate and weigh down evenly overnight - the eggplant will lose lots of water, so make sure the colander has somewhere to drain to.
2. Rinse the eggplant in cold water, then squeeze well to extract the moisture. Place into a bowl and cover with white wine vinegar. Cover with a plate to keep the eggplant submerged and again leave overnight.
3. Squeeze out the excess vinegar vigorously with your hands until the eggplant is quite compressed, place into a bowl with the garlic, banana peppers, pepper, ground cloves and basil. Toss well.
4. Put the eggplant mix into sterilised preserving jars, pressing it down so it is quite compact, adding a chilli to each jar. Top with the blended oil, gently tapping the jars as you add the oil to remove any air pockets. Seal.
5. Store in a cool, dark pantry space or cupboard for two weeks before using. Keep in the fridge once opened.
Makes about 3 x 400g jars.
Tip Blending vegetable oil with olive oil stops it solidifying once refrigerated.
Tip To sterilise jars, immerse in boiling water for five minutes, then dry in a warm oven.
Drink Manzanilla sherry or a ''salty'' Italian white such as vermentino or carricante.