Melanzane sott'olio

By • October 26, 2010 • 22 Comments

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Author Notes: My obsession with melanzane sott'olio began on a summer trip to the Aeolian Island of Salina. My brother bought a jar of the pickled, oil-packed eggplant from a woman selling it out of her living room window, and, paying a hefty eight euros for it, we thought we might have just been a couple of suckered tourists. But we opened the jar for lunch, along with some cured meats, cheese, and bread, and suddenly we found ourselves trying to not eat all of it in one sitting. The strips of eggplant were firm and almost chewy, tasting lightly of brine and heavily of the olive oil and herbs used in the marinade. I haven't quite figured out how this woman mastered the texture of the eggplant (mine is definitely softer), but I've managed to hit on a taste close to what I remember, at least enough so that it should hold me over until I can get back to Salina and buy this woman's supply out. - vvvanessavvvanessa

Food52 Review: A fleeting crush on aubergines (eggplants) blossoms into full-fledged romance with vvvanessa’s Melanzane sott’olio all’eoliana. There’s something about the way the discs ‘perk’ up in the pickling liquid, transforming from dark purple to bright. I’ve enjoyed the melanzane, slice by slice. It is delicious, meaty, fragrant and well-flavoured. I suspect it will make a die-hard aubergine romantic out of me. Note: I’d recommend using less vinegar per cup of water for a subtler taste. - Kitchen ButterflyKitchen Butterfly

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 medium-sized Italian eggplants, washed and dried
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 5-10 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped or torn
  • 3-5 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes (Calabrian chiles if you can get your hands on them) or 4-6 whole dried chiles, sliced open
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups very good quality extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice the eggplants into rounds not more than 1/4" thick. Toss them with the salt so that they are evenly covered, and place them in a colander. Place the colander on a bowl or plate, then place a sheet of wax paper over the eggplant. Set a few pounds of weight on top of the wax paper; bags of dried beans or sugar or a few big cans of tomatoes will work well.
  2. Let the eggplant sit for a good 6 hours, or ideally overnight. Gently squeeze any remaining liquid from the eggplant. Discard the liquid that drained from the eggplant.
  3. In a large, non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to a boil. In 3 or 4 batches, add the eggplant to the mixture, bring it back to a boil, and let it cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the eggplant slices to a platter lined with an absorbent dish towel or paper towels. Let them drain for about 5 minutes, turn them, then let them drain for another 5 minutes.
  5. In a minimum 1-quart capacity jar or bowl, layer the eggplant with the herbs, chiles, and garlic. Top off the layers with enough olive oil to cover the eggplant completely.
  6. Keep the eggplant refrigerated for up to a couple of weeks, but it won't last that long. Melanzane sott'olio is a perfect addition to an antipasti platter or picnic basket and makes for a great sandwich or crostino topping. I eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all points in between.
Jump to Comments (22)

Tags: antipasti, Appetizers, eggplant, marinade, pickled, picnic, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Comments (22) Questions (1)

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about 1 year ago LE BEC FIN

vanessa, 2-3 cups of evoo is exPENsive!; are you able to re-use it after the eggplant has been devoured? with the vinegar and water traces, i'm guessing the evoo could not be used for sauteeing, just for vinaigrettes?

Dsc00426

about 1 year ago vvvanessa

I've used the oil for vinaigrette (for salad (green, grain, pasta) and for tossing steamed green beans, etc. in) and for dipping bread in. You also might need less oil that what's called for.

Gator_cake

almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I had the opportunity to try this, and it is delicious! Thanks for sharing such a lovely memory and recipe.

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almost 3 years ago vvvanessa

thanks, hardlikearmour! : )

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almost 3 years ago lapadia

Me too, thanks for sharing this with us! Even though I am not an "eggplant" person, but couldn't resist tasting it :0

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Hey, vvvvvvanessssssa, I am able to get really nice Japanese eggplant, (and sometimes, the even tinier ones) so I'm wondering . . . how much volume of eggplant, i.e., how many cups of slices, would you say you use for this, when you make it with the larger ones? I'm sooo eager to try this! Thanks so much. ;o)

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

hi, aj! i would guess that i had maybe 3 or 4 cups of slices, thinking that each eggplant yields a couple of big handfuls. but i also think there is a good amount of leeway in the amount of eggplant you use, so i think that even if you ended up with 6+ cups, you'd be fine. and are these beautiful eggplants you're getting available to other east bay dwellers?
: )

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Vvvvvvvanessssa, I get them in Oakland Chinatown; sometimes the ones at the Old Oakland Farmers' Market, right across from Chinatown, are really nice looking. Other times they are cosmetically challenged, but fresh. I go super early, when possible. I usually park on the north side of the market (near 9th and Washington), peruse the Asian vendors' tables and buy anything that looks fabulous but isn't in great quantity, then I cross Broadway and shop at the first big market with produce on 9th St. (also great for fresh bean sprouts, lemons/limes, every bottled Asian sauce imaginable, etc.) for anything not available at the farmers' market, then load up on farmers' market produce last. If you go in the middle of the day, you get the great R&B bands and the food trucks are out in full force. The guy playing the traditional Chinese instrument's there for most of the market (8-2). I love Oakland. ;o)

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about 3 years ago lazychef

Made this over the weekend, and it's terrific. The flavors are quite similar to makdous, a Syrian dish in which baby eggplant are pickled and stuffed with garlic and peppers and chopped walnuts- eat for breakfast with scrambled eggs and toast, yum!

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

thanks, lazychef! i'm glad you liked it. now i'm going to have to look up a recipe for makdous-- the walnut element sounds divine.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh my, that makdous, minus the peppers, sounds right up my alley. Definitely going to run that down. ;o)

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about 3 years ago susan g

Great story! Add eggplant to today's shopping list (and white wine vinegar -- too bad I can't borrow some from Kitchen Butterfly).

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Oh Susan G if you live anywhere near the Netherlands :-), I'd be happy to send you some!!!!!!!!!! So looking forward to making this

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about 3 years ago susan g

Excellent, and very pretty. I think they'll only get better until we eat it up -- which won't be long.
And thanks, KB. Hope you've made yours too.

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about 3 years ago susan g

...and that oil will be put to good use when the eggplant's gone.

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

thanks, susan g! a good heap of bread got dunked in the leftover oil for sure!

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about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

And guess what - I have 2 bottles of white wine vinegar which I'd been looking forward to using up!!!!!

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

it was meant to be : )

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Looking forward to testing these!

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

i do hope you like the recipe. i was very happy to see that you'd testing it!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds fabulous!

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

i wish it were as fabulous as the one i had in salina. maybe i just need to move there and keep the vendor in business.