Marinated eggplant is an easy-to-make and delicious dish from Central Asia. Vegan, low carb, gluten-free and paleo-friendly, this dish can be served as an appetizer, as a side dish, in place of a salad, or just by itself. It's that good!
I am usually the cook in the family, I just love cooking and seeing how others enjoy my creations. My lovely and talented wife, on the other hand, is not too crazy about cooking, but when she does cook, she impresses us all. As a child, she spent a number of years in a faraway country of Tajikistan where she experienced some of the most interesting and delicious dishes.
Yesterday she prepared one of them, marinated eggplant. It's a very common dish in that region. Our kids, who never even touched eggplant, ate a plateful and then asked for more.
While my wife was assembling the dish before marinating it she made a little sandwich for me to try, a slice of still-warm fried eggplant, a little garlic, fresh black pepper, salt, topped with a slice of tomato and fresh greens. OMG! I exclaimed. Can this get any better? Do we even need to marinate them?
I ended up eating another one of those sandwiches, and then another... I really liked the warmth of the eggplant, and the toasty, nutty flavor it had. Now that I also tried the dish fully marinated and chilled, I am still torn as to which one I prefer. Both are amazing, refreshing and full of summer flavors.
Preparation and cooking is fairly simple. I would even put this recipe into the category of quick eggplant recipes. Slices of eggplant are sauteed over medium heat on both sides, about 6 minutes per side, to soften them a little and obtain a nice golden brown color.
To make sure that flavors spread across nicely and evenly, it's best to spread pressed garlic all over each eggplant slice. It may sound a bit tedious, but really does not take that long, about 10 minutes or so.
Then, layer your eggplant in a pot or a container, sprinkling a tiny bit of salt and pepper, and chopped fresh herbs on top of each slice. Again, this helps to ensure that each piece is as seasoned and as flavorful as the next. Use only fresh herbs as they add clean, bold flavors to the eggplant. We like dill and parsley but there are other excellent herbs that you can use, like chives, mint, cilantro and more.
When done layering, cover with a lid and keep at room temperature for four hours. Now your eggplant are fully marinated and ready for serving.
Refrigerate whatever is left. It helps if the lid is tight, you don't want other food in the fridge to smell like garlic.
Marinated eggplant will keep in a refrigerator for up to eight days, if they last that long. Ours are just about gone, and it's only been one day.
- 2 large eggplant
- 3 cloves garlic pressed (see note)
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh dill finely chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 3-6 Tbsp olive oil
- Rinse the eggplant, dry with paper towels, slice about 3/8 inch thick.
- Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place about 1/3 of sliced eggplant on the skillet in one layer and cook over medium heat for about 6 minutes, until golden brown. Flip on the other side and continue cooking for another 6 minutes. As eggplant really soak in oil when they are cooking, add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil when flipping. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towel to remove excess oil and cool down. Repeat this step until all eggplant slices are cooked (2 large eggplant are usually cooked in 2-3 batches, depending on the size of the skillet you are using).
- Spread a bit of pressed garlic over the top of each eggplant slice.
- Grab a container with a tight lid, spread a pinch or two of pressed garlic on the bottom and sprinkle some chopped dill and parsley.
- Place a layer of eggplant slices making sure they don't overlap or barely overlap. Sprinkle a tiny pinch or two of salt, grind some black pepper to taste. Finish the layer by sprinkling some chopped dill and parsley. Repeat until all vegetables are layered. Finish with a pinch of salt, pepper and chopped greens.
- Cover with with a lid and keep at room temperature for 4 hours before serving.
- Marinated eggplant can be refrigerated for up to 7-8 days. You can serve it cold or brought to room temperature before serving.