About this recipe:A marinated brinjal (eggplant) in olive oil and seasonings that is a delicious antipasto dish. Traditionally we make this in September, to be served at Christmas time. Sometimes Nonna slipped a couple of finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes (with dried Italian basil) into the mix for a variation.
4 medium round brinjal (eggplants)
1/2 cup coarse salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups (500ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 bulb garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Directions Prep:30min › Extra time:30days curing › Ready in:30days30min
On the evening before you intend to make the dish, prepare the brinjal. Cut the ends off the brinjal, and peel. Cut the peeled brinjal into long strips about as big around as shoestring french fries. Place the strips into a large bowl, and stir in 1/2 cup of coarse salt.
Place a sturdy dinner plate upside down in a clean sink, making sure that the drain is not blocked. Place a generous handful of the brinjal strips onto the center of the plate, and cover with another upside down dinner plate to create an brinjal sandwich. Layer more brinjal and plates until all of the brinjal is sandwiched. Cap it off with one additional plate, and press down firmly. Set a sturdy stock pot on top, and fill with enough water to create some pressure on the brinjal layers. Not so much pressure that you break your dishes though. Let this pressing process stand overnight.
The next day, fill a large bowl with ice water. Begin dismantling your stack of plates. One layer (handful) at a time, briefly swish the brinjal around in the ice water, then squeeze dry and place into a clean bowl. If your hand starts to hurt, you are swishing too long. Once all of the brinjal is rinsed and squeezed and in the bowl, mix in the vinegar. Let rest for about 15 minutes.
Heat a splash of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, red chilli flakes, oregano and sea salt. Cook and stir just until fragrant. You do not want to cook the garlic. Set aside to cool.
Your brinjal should be well rested now. Give them one last sqeeze. Make it a good one, or your melenzana (brinjal) is going to taste like pickles. ''Don't worry, this is the last time, I promise...'' (This is to be said to the poor little melenzana (brinjal)- they've been through so much!)
Place the squeezed brinjal into a large bowl, and stir in the contents of the skillet and remaining olive oil until well blended. Transfer to sterile 500ml jars. Make sure to fill the jars to the top, and top off with any olive oil that may be left in the bowl. Wipe the rims with a clean dry cloth, and seal tightly with new lids. Refrigerate for at least a month before opening.