Amazing Italian Marinated Eggplant Antipasto Recipe


If you’ve ever been to an Italian deli, you may have noticed or even had one of their made-to-order panini sandwiches loaded with your favorite meats, cheeses, and toppings. There’s one particular topping that is so very special, it transforms the sandwich into a magical experience. I might be exaggerating slightly, but unless you’ve experienced marinated eggplants on your sandwich, you are certainly missing out.

Italians know food and panini sandwiches are pretty awesome. I grew up with all sorts of cheeses, deli meats, and antipasto platters every Sunday afternoon. We’d make our sandwiches with fresh bread and we still maintain that tradition with our kids. They even enjoy the occasional picked antipasto vegetable (giardiniera). I’m pretty sure pickled vegetables belong in Italian kid’s food groups.

To be honest, as a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of many of the pickled vegetables, and marinated eggplants weren’t my go-to item. As I got older (and smarter), I learned to love them. Even by themselves, the marinated eggplant strips go so well on a fresh piece of crusty Italian bread or a baguette. It is divine.

The recipe to make pickled/marinated eggplants isn’t all that difficult but it does take some patience since there is some waiting time between steps. Whenever eggplants are in season or when they go on sale the grocery store, I pick up a few and make a fresh batch. I also give some to our friends and family, which everyone seems to love.

Here’s the recipe. The ingredients are for approximately 10 medium-sized eggplants, but you can adjust to suit the quantity you want to make.


10 medium Eggplants
Approx 1/2 cup of salt
4 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar
4 cloves of garlic – minced (to taste)
1/2 to 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Paprika
Cracked pepper (to taste)
Red chili paste (Optional)
Crushed chili flakes (Optional)


1. Clean and Cut
Wash and dry eggplants. Cut off stems and peel off the skin. Cut into strips approximately 1/2 inch thick, similar to french fries.


2. Toss and Drain
Place strips into a bowl and toss with enough salt until they are coated. Do this in batches to make it easier. Transfer salted strips into a colander. Place colander onto a deep dish or bowl to catch liquid and place in the refrigerator to drain for 4 to 24 hours. It helps to place a small dish on top of the strips, to both cover it and to apply slight pressure to help drain the liquid.


3. Squeeze and Boil
In a suitably sized pot, bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Remove colander from the refrigerator and take eggplant strips out in small portions, squeezing as much of the remaining liquid out of them. Add the strips to the pot and boil for approx. 5 minutes, until tender.


4. Drain and Wait some more
Transfer the boiled strips back into the colander and drain over a sink. Place a couple of small plates (or some other weight) on top to assist with draining. When cool enough, drain additional liquid and place back into the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours to allow it to drain some more. (Again, ensure there is a deep dish or bowl underneath to catch liquid.)


5. Just One More Quick Toss.
Remove from refrigerator. Again, in small handfuls, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from strips and transfer into a large bowl. Toss with minced garlic, pepper, oregano, paprika and 1/2 cup of oil. Adjust the quantities to your desired taste. If you like it spicier (highly recommended), add red chili flakes and chili paste to your desired taste.

6. Go time.
Transfer to storage containers (mason jar, etc) to about 3/4 full and add oil to cover. Spread some on a crusty piece of bread and enjoy!!
The eggplants will keep for about a week in the refrigerator but can be frozen for long term storage.


I hope you enjoy it.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear your comments.



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