Not only are eggplant prepared in this way crazy good, they’ll last you a few weeks in the fridge, which works out well because you’ll want to try them with everything. Here are a few ideas to get you started: pile them on grilled bread, tuck into a sandwich, make a baba ghanoush-like dip, roughly chop and add to pasta or grain salads, pair with grilled meat or fish, or just eat plain. And don't forgot about the flavor-packed oil: use it along with the eggplant, or whisk it with lemon juice or vinegar for a killer vinaigrette. —EmilyC
1 quart jar
1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups
olive oil, divided
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
anchovy fillets, finely chopped and smashed into a paste
Finely grated zest and juice from one large lemon
1 to 1 1/2 pounds
small- to medium-sized eggplant, halved
In a 12-inch skillet with lid, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovy, and cook a few minutes until the garlic starts to soften and the anchovy melts into the oil. Add the lemon zest to the pan (I like to do this by grating the zest with a microplane directly into the pan).
Sprinkle the cut sides of the eggplant generously with salt. Arrange the eggplant, cut-side down, in a single layer in the pan (if they overlap a bit, that’s fine). Pierce the skin of each eggplant a few times with a fork. Lay the springs of thyme over the eggplant, and nestle the dried chiles among the eggplant. Pour more olive oil over the eggplant until it’s nearly covered (it doesn’t have to be fully submerged). It will most likely take between 1 and 1 1/2 cups of olive oil.
Cover the skillet, turn the heat to very low, and cook until the eggplant are completely soft and tender, anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours depending on size and variety of eggplant. Cut off a little piece to taste if you're unsure. Remove pan from heat. Adjust seasoning and acidity to taste with salt and lemon juice. Let cool.
Pack in a large jar or storage container, then cover with the cooking oil. Tightly covered, the eggplant should last about two weeks in the refrigerator. See headnote for suggested uses.