I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes, which happens to come from a Lebanese cookbook printed in French way back in the 1930s. The best eggplants for this recipe are the long ones like Malaysian Dark Red, which is available through the Baker Creek seed catalog. Be sure to pick them small because tenderness is important. The pickle is delicious and will turn your eggplant crop into a summer poem.
This is eaten as an appetizer or spread. It won’t last long with kids around, so make a couple of batches to keep on hand throughout the summer. If you like mint, double the quantity in the recipe. Do not keep for longer than 6 months.
• 3 pounds small long black or purple eggplants
• 1/4 cup sea salt or pickling salt
• 2-1/4 cups red wine vinegar
• 1 cup finely diced green pepper
• 1/2 cup finely diced sweet red pepper
• 2 teaspoons finely minced hot pepper or to taste
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
• 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin lengthwise
• 1-1/4 cups olive oil
1. Slice the eggplant into thin 1 to 2 inch strips, julienne style. Put the eggplant in layers in a colander and sprinkle the salt between each layer. Cover with a plate and put a weight on the plate. Let the eggplant drain for 1 hour, then squeeze it to wring out as much liquid as possible.
2. Put the eggplant in a deep stewing pan with 1 quart of water and 2 cups of vinegar. Bring the eggplant to a hard boil (it should start to steam), then turn off the heat and let the eggplant cool in the liquid. Pour off the liquid and squeeze or press the eggplant so that it is free of all excess liquid. Put the eggplant in a deep work bowl.
3. Add the green, red, and hot peppers, the parsley, mint and garlic, as well as 1 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vinegar. Stir well, adjust the seasoning, then pour this into a sterilized 2-quart canning jar and press the mixture down so that there are no air spaces. Pour olive oil over the top to cover the mixture by about 1/2 inch or so (this may require more than the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil).
4. Cover with a tight lid and allow the mixture to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 month before serving. Serve at room temperature.