Pickled Mini Eggplants with Celery and Herbs

Finding these beautiful mini eggplants at the market, my first thought was to prepare my dish of mini eggplants stuffed with lamb (click HERE for the recipe). However, on second thought, I decided to go with a lighter direction, and use them to make quick pickles with fresh herbs.
Versions of these pickles are popular in the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, with different ingredients and spices in the filling. In the following recipe, I chose to use fresh celery as the main ingredient, with added flavors of cilantro, mint, a bit of cumin, garlic and jalapeno.
These pickles are quick and easy to make, and they don’t require long marinating time. The quick process allows the celery to keep its crunch and add another layer of texture to the soft eggplant, while the herbs keep their fresh aroma and flavor. The pickles are great as a part of an antipasti platter, in sandwiches, or as a side dish with grilled meats or fish. Try them and enjoy.

Makes: 4 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Pickling time: 2 days

Ingredients:
10-12 mini eggplants
2 celery sticks (tender ones, from the center)
¼ jalapeno pepper, deseeded
2 garlic cloves
1 cup cilantro leaves
½ cup mint leaves
1 tsp cumin powder
2 Tbs Kosher salt
¾ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 cups + as needed water (boiled and cooled)

1. Slit each eggplant, as shown in the photo. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the eggplants soften, but are still firm and keep their shape. Drain and let cool.

2. Dice the celery and coarsely chop the jalapeno, garlic and herbs. Add the cumin and ½ Tbs salt, and mix.

3. Generously stuff each eggplant with the mixture. Place in 2 x 1 pint (2 cups) pickling jars. Dissolve the remaining salt in the vinegar and water, and divide between the jars. Add water to cover completely. Taste and adjust with more vinegar or salt, if needed, and seal the jars.

4. Leave at room temperature, in a cool dark place, for 2 days. The pickles are ready at this point, and can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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