Oh well, what a miserable vegetable garden year it was. You may recall here in June reporting on my friend M and me’s attempts to grow something edible in the fifteen-square-foot neighborhood garden we had under our care for the duration of this gardening season. At the time, I wrote with some embarrassment that we had probably started sowing a little too late and that our patch of soil was a bit meager compared to that of our neighborhood garden neighbours. But now I look at it a little differently.
M and I couldn’t help but let our onions and garlic rot before they had outgrown the embryonic stage. It really wasn’t our fault that the beets remained Madurodam models. That the green bean crop was an ounce or two and the chilli crop was zero was nothing to be ashamed of. It was, as I now know, simply a vegetable garden year from hell.
With relief – no, no gloating, you are honked – I read the horror stories of fellow vegetable gardeners in the media last summer. In the AD a man who had been maintaining an allotment garden for more than twenty years spoke, and nothing would work for him either. In Fidelity a professional horticulturist confessed that at a certain point, when the snails appeared to have eaten the kale plants in addition to the lettuce and the bok choy, he burst into tears.
No, now that the season is coming to an end and M and I will soon have to hand in our little land to the municipality again, I look at our adventure very differently. In fact, our fava bean crop would have been not too bad then – it’s a good thing we got rid of those buds full of aphids in time. Our cos lettuce had bravely resisted hungry bugs. All but one of the courgettes had survived multiple episodes of heavy rainfall and subsequent soggyness. What a wonderful amount we could have picked, handfuls and handfuls of sorrel. And how proudly the fennel had grown.
All in all, with our very modest experience, I don’t think we’ve fared that badly. In any case, we had a lot of fun, even when we were attacked for the umpteenth time during weeding by a downpour and had to take shelter soaking wet and muddy in the common rake and watering can. Even then. Just then.
We enjoyed what did work out, even that handful of green beans was prepared and eaten with care. And although I would have loved to have made today’s recipe, as a seasonal farewell, with aubergines and bell peppers from my own garden, I am lucky enough to be able to just walk to the Turkish supermarket on the corner, where these vegetables are sold in large piles. little money can be bought. It’s just a hobby. We don’t have to live off it. There are worse things. New opportunities next summer.
So, and now about the delicious dish that my Brazilian friend Walmir taught me to make: strips of aubergine and peppers pickled in olive oil with lots of garlic, lime and surprisingly also nuts and raisins. He put me his Pickled Eggplant once when I went to dinner with him, accompanied by freshly baked cheese bread, cheese sandwiches, and I had to beg him several times after that to share his secret family recipe with me. Finally he emailed it to me, including permission to put it in NRC with the command: “Remember me when you eat it.” We will, Walmir. Thank you.
Pickled Eggplant (in olive oil pickled aubergine and bell pepper)
My friend Walmir makes his aubergines according to an old (and until today strictly secret) family recipe. There are many Brazilian recipes on the internet that look similar, but most of them use vinegar instead of lime and I couldn’t find that rather brilliant addition of nuts and raisins anywhere. My only disobedience to Walmir’s recipe is that I use a little more lime juice and also add the grated zest of the limes. But above all, do it according to your own taste.
For 5 jars of 500 ml:
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper;
4 large garlic cloves;
75 g walnuts;
75 g cashew nuts;
1 boss bladpeterslie;
75 g of raisins;
2 tsp dried oregano;
500-700 ml liter extra virgin olive oil
You will also need: 5 spotless jars (each 500 ml) with screw caps
cuts slice the aubergines lengthwise and then, still lengthwise, into finger-thick strips. Clean the peppers and cut them into long strips as well, but a bit thinner than the aubergine. Peel the onion and cut it into half rings.
Bring Bring a very large pot of water to the boil and add a handful of salt. (Use about as much salt as you would for pasta cooking water.) Submerge the eggplant strips in the water and cook for 10-15 minutes. The vegetable should be soft, but not cooked all the way to a porridge.
spade the aubergine in a colander with a slotted spoon. Drain and cool for half an hour. Meanwhile, add the pepper strips and the onion to the eggplant cooking water and cook for about 10 minutes somewhere between al dente and soft. Also drain in a colander and cool to lukewarm.
Pel the garlic and finely chop. Roughly chop or break the nuts. It’s nice to see a bit of nut here and there, so don’t over-fine them. Chop the parsley medium coarsely. Scrub the limes clean and grate the green zest on a fine grater. Cut the limes in half and juice them.
Doe the drained aubergine, bell pepper and onion in a bowl and add the garlic, nuts, raisins, oregano, parsley, ¾ of the lime zest and ¾ of the lime juice. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, grind generously with pepper and add 500 ml of olive oil. Mix gently to preserve the structure of the vegetables. (Walmir and I just do this with our hands.) Taste to see if you need more salt, pepper, lime zest or juice and adjust the flavors as needed.
fill the jars with the vegetable mixture, making sure there is a layer of oil on top. If necessary, add a dash of extra oil in the pot. Place the jars in the fridge and allow to taste for at least 4 days. After that, the beringela stays good for up to 6 months, provided it is always covered with a small layer of oil. Serve the beringela with crusty baguette or crackers or mix some with the lettuce.