Francesca's Pickled Eggplant
4 or 5 medium eggplant
Coarse Kosher Salt
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water (if making more just always use a 2 to 1 ratio with vinegar)
6 medium garlic cloves
10 leaves fresh basil, minced
15 small leaves fresh oregano, minced
red pepper flakes to taste
Cold press extra virgin olive oil
Glass jar to store in (mason jar, re-purposed olive jar, etc)
Trim ends from eggplant, and peel. Cut into quarters lengthwise then turn sideways and cut those 4 quarters into strips (picture making french fries....that's the general size you want)
Place your strips into a plastic colander (certain metals can react with the eggplant causing a nasty taste), then cover them with the Kosher salt, and mix well by hand to ensure all pieces are coated. Place colander in sink, covered with a paper towel, and let sweat for about half an hour to 45 minutes. Sweating the eggplant pulls most of the moisture out of the eggplant and if you are using big eggplant it also helps remove the bitter bite.
Rinse eggplant strips well with cold water, drain, and repeat 2 more times. After 3rd time rinse well with cold water then wring out any remaining water from the strips by hand. Finally, pat them dry with paper towels.
Combine vinegar and water in a non reactive saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add eggplant and pepper flakes, and boil until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain into plastic colander, and let cool for a few minutes. After draining, squeeze strips between paper towels to dry.
Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the bottom of your jar. Add some eggplant strips, a clove of garlic, some of your herb mix, and repeat until your jar is completely full. Make sure the eggplant is totally covered with oil, and nothing exposed at top of jar. You can use your finger or a fork to push down anything sticking above oil line. Seal your jar tightly, allow to cool then place in fridge*. For the absolute best flavor let it sit and marinate for a few days so they really soak in that flavor...but if you can't wait....I've had some the next day.
*Your oil may solidify as a result of refrigeration, don't worry, it's fine. Just set jar out on counter a few minutes before you want to serve and the room temp will loosen up the oil.
Now....this is good as part of an antipasta or by itself, in a salad or on a sandwich. My favorite way to eat it is on a warm ciabatta roll with sliced turkey, mozzarella cheese and olive oil. PHENOMINAL!!! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do and as always, let me know what you think.