Editor's note: This story was first published on Aug. 16, 1995, but the recipe is frequently requested by readers.
This is the time of year when Eagle readers start calling or writing with requests for the famous pickled eggplant recipe from Angelo's restaurant in Wichita.
Gardens are starting to produce large quantities of the shiny purple produce, and pickled eggplant is an excellent way to preserve it. Pickled eggplant should last at least a year in the refrigerator. Use it in relish trays, in salads, even as a sandwich accent.
The Eagle last printed Angelo Fasciano's recipe five years ago. It is given here as Fasciano "talked" through it to former Eagle food writer Kathleen Kelly. Angelo's pickled eggplant
Fasciano recommended that the home cook start with at least a bushel of fresh, tight eggplant to make the project worthwhile. You'll only end up with a couple of gallons of the pickle by the time you've finished the process.
First, wash the eggplant and cut off the stems. Be sure to take off enough so that you have no hard core remaining. Peel the eggplant; a good vegetable peeler does the best job, though you may use a knife.
Slice the eggplant 1/4-inch thick; then slice again into julienne strips. Sprinkle the strips heavily with salt (pickling or non-iodized), mixing the salt and eggplant thoroughly. Place in a relatively narrow container crockery, plastic or enameled, not aluminum. Place a plate that fits inside the container on top of the eggplant and weight it down.
The salt and weight will remove liquid (it will be dark in color) from the eggplant. Drain this liquid and continue to squeeze the eggplant until no more liquid can be extracted. At home you can use two stainless steel containers, one small enough to fit inside the other, and allow the juice to run out, and just keep squeezing, Fasciano said.
When enough liquid has been squeezed from the eggplant, it will be a greenish-gray wad. The importance of getting all the juice out can't be overemphasized, Fasciano said. If juice is left in the eggplant, it will dilute the vinegar and oil used for pickling. The juice may make the pickle bitter and reduce its keeping qualities.
Break up the mass of eggplant and place in a non-aluminum container. Bring enough white vinegar to cover (or use half vinegar and half water) to a boil and pour hot over the eggplant. Let stand 15 minutes or so to allow the vinegar to penetrate the shards of eggplant. It can be allowed to stand for several hours in the vinegar, if necessary. Drain the vinegar from the eggplant and squeeze again, though not so dry as before; some of the vinegar flavor should be retained.
Spice according to your own taste. You'll need to season with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder or granules (not garlic salt). One Italian cookbook recommends 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons oregano for 5 pounds of whole eggplant.
Mix in spices and enough good-quality olive oil to saturate the shards of eggplant. Stir occasionally to mix well. You should be able to taste the vinegar; if not, add more to the mixture. Neither the garlic nor the oregano should dominate the flavor.
If you make a mistake and add too much of anything, correct by slicing, salting and squeezing, steeping in vinegar and squeezing another eggplant to add to the mixture. Before storing in the refrigerator, pour a layer of oil over the top of the mixture to form a "seal" that will keep air from getting into the eggplant. Cover with a lid.