I love cooking, but sometimes I’m too busy to stand for hours in the kitchen. so it is good to have something on hand. Also it happens that we have more fruits and veggies at home as we can store in our rather small fridge. Or sometimes the prices for certain fruits or veggies are so affordable, that it is worth to buy more and to preserve them. As I had last weekend lots of eggplants at home, today’s recipe is a super versatile sweet and spicy preserved eggplant salad.
As you see there are several reasons why I preserve food the old fashioned way from time to time. What I like about this method is that you need no additional energy during storage (unlike if you freeze it) and the product that you fill in the jars remains pretty much the same. Frozen fruits and veggies, however, become mushy after thawing and might even change the taste. As I had last weekend lots of eggplants at home, today’s recipe is a super versatile preserved eggplant salad.
The preserved eggplant salad is sweet, spicy, and garlicky. It can be enjoyed as a side dish, as a topping for rice or pasta or you can spread it on toasted bread. Some melted cheese on it is also delicious. Of course, you can make it less sweet by adding less sugar. But I really like the combination of sweetness and the spiciness of the chili. Most of the ingredients are fried in olive oil so that the preserved eggplant salad has a tasty roasted flavor. The eggplant salad is not too mushy and has not that typical over-cooked canned-food consistency that you might know from store-bought products.
You do not need any special equipment for this recipe. I use clean jars of marmalade, tomato paste, pickled cucumbers, and so on… To create a vacuum, you have to boil the completely filled jars in a large pot. This also sterilizes the eggplant salad.
You can stored the eggplant salad at least for weeks in the pantry. As long as the vacuum is there before you open it and it smells nice, it is eatable. When the lid, however, bulges, you cannot eat it anymore.
- 1.5 kg eggplants
- 4 green sweet peppers (about 500g)
- 9 tomatoes (about 900g)
- 3-4 not too spicy chili peppers or chili adjust to taste
- 1 bulb of garlic (about 15 garlic cloves), or more when you like it extra garlicky
- 5 tablespoons sugar (or less if you don’t like it too sweet)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- salt to taste (about 1 ½ tablespoon)
- olive oil to fry the veggies
- jars (I used about 7 jars, size: about 350 ml per jar)
- Wash the eggplants and trim the edges. Then, halve them lengthwise and slice them thinly.
- Next, heat some olive oil (about 4 tablespoons) in a wide skillet and add about 1/3 of the eggplant slices. Stir the eggplants regularly and fry them until they are nicely roasted. Although the eggplants absorb all the oil quickly, don’t add more of it. When the eggplants slices are ready, cover the pan with a lid and continue frying for about 1 more minute. Then turn off the heat and let the eggplants rest in the skillet for about 5 minutes. This will make the eggplants nicely soft. Transfer the eggplants into a large pot. Then, fry the remaining 2 portions of eggplant the same way using again about 4 tablespoons of olive oil per portion.
- While tyou fry the eggplant slices, prepare the sweet peppers. Therefore, remove the stalk and seeds. Then, halve them lengthwise and slice them thinly. When all the eggplants are ready, put all the sweet peppers at once into the skillet and fry them without additional oil until nicely roasted. Soften them by covering the skillet with a lid at the end of the frying process, just like the eggplants. When the sweet peppers are ready, add them to the eggplants.
- While the sweet peppers are frying, peel all the garlic cloves of the bulb and chop them finely. Also, remove the stalks of the chilis and slice them thinly. Do not remove their seeds as they contain all the spiciness.
- Peel the tomatoes with a sharp knife and dice them finely. Use a separate cutting board or put the chili and garlic on a plate so that the juice of the tomatoes does not wet the garlic and chili.
- When sweet peppers are done, put some olive oil into the skillet and add the garlic and the chili. Fry both for about 30 seconds. Then, stir in the sugar. Continue cooking for some seconds and then add the tomatoes. Cook everything for about 5 minutes. Before you add the mixture to the eggplants and sweet peppers, stir in the salt.
- Now chop the parsley finely and put it with the tomato mixture into the pot with the veggies. Stir the vegetables carefully and combine the ingredients well. Taste the eggplant salad and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Bring the eggplant salad to boil and immediately turn off the heat.
- Check the jars and make sure that they are clean. Fill the eggplant salad into the jars. Fill the jars completely and use a spoon to press in the eggplant salad. There must not remain any gaps in the jar! Otherwise, the eggplants will not keep. Clean the edges of the jars with kitchen paper and close them with a lid. If the last jar is not full, store it in the fridge and eat the salad in it soon.
- To preserve the eggplant salad. We will boil the jars in water. Put a kitchen cloth on the bottom of a large pot. Place the jars on top of it, one beside the other. Fill the pot with water until the jars are almost covered with water. Use warm water when your jars are still hot. Then, cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to boil. When the water has started to boil, cook the jars for about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat. Leave the jars in the pot until they have cooled down a little.
- With oven gloves on your hands, take them out of the pot and let them cool down completely. When they cool down, a vacuum will be created. To check it, press the middle of the lids. If you do not hear a sound and the lid does not give way, it worked. When you can press the lid down a little in the middle, and you hear a cracking sound each time you press, it did work. You can try to cook those jars again to create a vacuum or store them in the fridge. You can store the vacuumed jars for weeks in the pantry. Enjoy the salad warm or cold.