I tried giving them away. I tried making them for dinner as often as I could, but still, STILL I had a bonanza of eggplant this year.
My Italian mama friend Silvana told me they make a conserve of these guys. I read about it a little online, but ended up kind of twisting her arm to come over and help me to use her recipes. Now a conserve, to us, sounds like jam. But these are more like marinated artichoke hearts. You kind of pickle them in vinegar, and then layer them in jars with extra virgin olive oil and spices.
We did two different recipes. The first one, we partially peeled and sliced the eggplant, and then salted the slices well and put them in the fridge overnight to shed water.
The second one we boiled the slices quickly in white wine vinegar (the only kind Silvana likes), salted them a bit,
and then pressed them with a weight (we used a heavy mug full of water).
Everything went in the fridge overnight.
The next day we rinsed off the salt for the first set of slices, and squeezed them by hand. They then got a quick boiling vinegar bath.
Then we got realistic and used more weights. We pressed the vinegar ones out further too.
Using rocks from my yard at the end to press.
One set of slices we layered with thin slices of garlic cloves, oregano, and red pepper flakes,
and of course the oil! The second set we layered with fresh basil and mint leaves (just a touch of mint), the garlic slices, oil, and finished off with a tiny bit of red pepper. Because as Silvana says "Mama mia!" we probably made the first few jars too hot with so much red pepper. The flakes were from my cayenne plant in the garden last summer, and I think this pepper was hotter than she was used to using.
We had to let them sit a while to settle, then topped with one more layer of oil, sterilized the lids, and closed them up. She tells me they are best after a few weeks. I am keeping them in the fridge just in case. In the food safety classes I took for catering they kept warning us of onions and garlic under oil, so I am playing it safe. I just hope I can keep from scarfing them all down before they are ready!