Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Eggplant Marinated in Olive Oil

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalProv Food Expert

Eggplant Salad
Serves 6 as appetizers

Marinated eggplant makes a great antipasto, alone or as part of a larger spread. It also works as an accompaniment to grilled meat and fish. However you serve it, I strongly suggest you make sure to save enough for a sandwich. Country bread with marinated eggplant, prosciutto, and mozzarella it’s really, really good.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 medium eggplants, about 1 pound each

8 cups water

2 cups white vinegar

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

½ cup, loosely packed fresh mint

¼ cup, loosely pack fresh oregano

3 large slices fresh garlic

Directions

Dissolve salt in large bowl of water. Peel eggplants; cut crosswise into ¾ inch thick slices. Place eggplant slices in salt water. Line a baking sheet with kitchen towel. Combine 8 cups water and vinegar in large non-aluminum pot. Bring to boil. Drain eggplant in colander. Working in batches, add eggplant to vinegar water and cook just until tender but not mushy, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to baking sheet, arranging in single layers.

Cover eggplant with another towel. Press gently on eggplant to absorb liquid. Repeat for each batch, using dry towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Drain eggplant on dry towels for 1 hour. 

Cut eggplant slices into ¾-inch cubes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in 1 cup of olive oil, herbs and garlic. Salt the mixture to taste. 

Transfer to 1-quart jar. Add enough remaining oil to cover. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days or up to 1 week. Let mixture stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.

Notes on eggplant

Eggplant is low in calories -- just 20 calories per cup, mostly from carbohydrates, a potent source of energy. It comes loaded with vitamins and minerals, but its health benefits extend beyond just adding vital nutrients to a meal. Eggplant contains other compounds that promote good health as well, even to the point of helping to prevent cancer and lowering cholesterol. Once you realize how beneficial eggplant is to your health, you may want to give more consideration to it becoming a regular part of your diet.

Apparently, way back in the 1700s, early European versions of eggplant were smaller and yellow or white. They looked a bit like goose or hen's eggs, which led to the name “eggplant." Eggplants were first cultivated in India approximately 4000 years ago, where they were widely used in a variety of dishes, both cooked and raw. In this region the eggplants harvested were of the recognizable dark color and distinctive shape. As other cultures adopted eggplants into their diets new varieties were developed, including those that were white, tan, and other light shades with varying shapes.

As the cultivation of eggplants migrated east in the 4th century, Asian cultures found a variety of uses for the oddly-shaped food in a number of dishes - some of these recipes are still used today. Around 500 A.D. eggplants first appeared in the writings of China. Once they caught on, eggplants enjoyed great popularity in China. As East met West, the Moors and Turks brought back this strange new food to their own territories.

 

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well."  Check out the Chef's website and blog.

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