Thank the genius who discovered that eggplant (other things, too) can be stored almost indefinitely when covered with olive oil. My wife normally does not care for eggplant–she especially dislikes the texture–but we served this preserved eggplant at our wedding and have held a special fondness for it ever since. I like to pull out a jar with cocktails. After a few months, the eggplant slices are pleasantly leathery and oozing flavors of garlic, basil and red pepper.
The preparation is extremely kind to the cook. There are no boiling pots or canning gadgets to worry about. All you need are some jars with lids and a few basic ingredients that you no doubt have already grown in your garden.
Don’t even worry about a recipe. Simply peel your eggplant and cut it into thin squares or rectangles about 2 inches long. Toss these with plenty of salt, then set them in a colander inside a large bowl to drain for at least 12 hours. They will shed lots of liquid. At the end of that time, use your hands to press as much remaining liquid out of the eggplant as you can.
Toss the drained eggplant with enough red wine vinegar to thoroughly coat, then set aside for 1 hour. Now pack the eggplant into pint jars, layering it with occasional leaves of basil, crushed garlic cloves and pinches of red pepper flakes. Press each layer down firmly, draining off any excess vinegar. When the jar is full, cover the contents with your favorite extra-virgin olive oil. Secure the lids on the jars and refrigerate.
Let the flavors mellow for at least a week, preferably longer. We are still eating eggplant we put away last year. Each bite reminds us of our wedding buffet.