As anyone who has ever cooked with them knows, eggplants soak up oil like a sponge. So to get some flavor into them quickly, we brush them with lemon juice, vinegar, and honey before sealing their surfaces with oil. We like to leave the skins on and stack them like pancakes in a wide-mouth pint jar.
- 1 pound small eggplants, blossom ends trimmed, cut into rounds about 3/8 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon kosher or other coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to cover
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 or 3 small fresh chiles of your choice, diced (optional)
Place the eggplant slices on a nonreactive baking sheet and sprinkle them with the salt. Let them stand for 30 to 45 minutes, and then wipe them dry with paper towels.
Preheat your broiler or build a medium-hot fire in your grill (you should be able to hold your hand 5 inches above the grill surface for only 3 seconds).
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, and honey and mix to combine well. Brush this mixture onto the eggplant slices, then brush on about 1/4 cup of the oil. Place the eggplant slices on the grill or leave them on the baking sheet and place it under the broiler. Cook until the eggplant has softened a little but is not fully cooked, about to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat, and sprinkle with the garlic, mint, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Layer into a close-fitting sealable jar or deep-sided bowl, pack in the chiles, and add just enough oil to cover. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
These pickles, which will keep at least a month at room temperature and several months refrigerated, are best served at room temperature.
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