Marinated Eggplant

eggplant saladThis delicious Italian-style eggplant is marinated in olive oil, Meyer lemon and a touch of balsamic, with garlic and oregano. It makes an excellent side-dish for Italian food.

Make the dish a day before serving and marinate overnight in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.

eggplants3 medium or 4 small globe eggplants or 3 long eggplants

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 leek

1/4 cup plus 2 Tb garlic infused olive oil

1 cloves garlic, minced fine

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

Juice of Meyer lemon

Several grinds black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

12-oz jar Italian-style roasted red bell peppers

14-oz can of artichoke hearts in water

10 fresh basil leaves

2 slices Meyer lemon (from blossom end)

chopped eggplant with leeksCut the eggplants at different angles into 2 inches pieces. Each piece should have skin on it. If using long eggplants, slice lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half coins. Put them on a rack above a rimmed baking pan, such as a jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the eggplant. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You will see it sweat. This improves the texture of the eggplant and is supposed to make it less bitter.

While eggplant is sweating, heat the oven to 350º F. Cut the white part of the leek length-wise and then crosswise into 1 ” pieces. Soak in a salad-spinner, then rise thoroughly. Spin until dry.

After eggplant sweats for 30 minutes, briefly rinse the pieces in the basket of the salad spinner, then spin, and pat dry with a paper towel. Grease a roasting pan with 2 TB garlic infused olive oil and add eggplant. Pour in the rest of the garlic oil and toss so that all the eggplant is coated with oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 350º F. Add the leeks to the roasting pan and roast an additional 15 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the hot pan. Turn off the oven and let the baking dish sit in the oven until it is cool, about an hour. The eggplant and leeks should be very tender.

Cut two thin slices of lemon from the blossom end (opposite the stem end), then cut each in half and set aside. Juice the lemon and pour it into in a deep casserole dish. Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano with the lemon juice.

Transfer the eggplant and leeks to the casserole dish. Stir in the Kalamata olives.Pour the jar of roasted peppers into the eggplant, then fish out the peppers and slice  into strips and stir into the eggplant. Drain the artichoke hearts and quarter them lengthwise and stir into the eggplant. Place the lemon slices on top.

Let the eggplant sit at room temperature. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for about 24 hours, and fold in the fresh basil leaves. If you have time, let it sit until it is room temperature before serving, but if not, it’s delicious cold as well. Serve as a side dish or over a lettuce and tomato salad.