Eggplant Antipasto Marinated In Olive Oil

Melanzane Sott’Olio d’Oliva (as it’s known in Italy) is a superb antipasto made by marinating eggplant with olive oil, garlic, crushed red peppers and herbs. It’s easy to assemble, but it has a drawback: you have to make it at least two weeks before you plan to use it. A month, maybe even two or three months is even better. This recipe comes from La Cucina Di Andrea’s, a cookbook of Chef Andrea Apuzzo’s recipes that I wrote with him in the late 1980s.

  • 4 medium eggplants
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 quart white vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups not-so-virgin (but not light) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Cut the skins off the eggplants. Then slice them crosswise about a quarter of an inch thick. Finally, cut them down to the approximate size of French fries.

2. In a bowl, toss the eggplant strips with the 1/2 cup of salt. Transfer the eggplant strips to a colander, layering them all the way up the sides. Put a bowl a little smaller than the colandar inside the colander, and weigh it down with a couple of unopened cans of the vegetable of your choice. (Tomatoes work perfectly.) Set this assembly into the kitchen sink, and let it stay there for forty-five minutes or so. Then remove the bowl and rinse the salt off the eggplant with cold running water. Drain the eggplant well, then squeeze it dry with your hands.

3. Put the eggplant in a bowl with the vinegar, and marinate it for about half an hour. Drain the vinegar from the eggplant and squeeze it dry again.

4. Scatter the eggplant loosely in a bowl and add all the other ingredients. Stir to mix everything. Scoop the contents into sterilized canning jars. Add enough olive oil to each jar to cover all the eggplant about a half-inch inch deep. Tightly seal and refrigerate the jar. Marinate the eggplant for at least two weeks. The ideal time is actually three months, and the eggplant will keep getting better even after that.

Serve at cool room temperature as an appetizer, with crostini. It’s also great mixed with sliced tomatoes.

Served eight.

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