Berenjena en escabeche could be translated as marinated eggplant. But it is so much more. Think of this as something you’d buy in a salumeria, an old shop with canisters of dried goods, and the smell of curing ham, and and other old world southern European kitchen memories. But you also easily make it at home, with minimal fuss and ingredients you probably already have on hand.
I first tried berenjena en escabeche in Argentina: I’ve eaten it in Buenos Aires; at a winery in the western regions of the country, near Mendoza; at an outdoor lunch in the shadow of the Andes. The preparation with both salt and vinegar washes out any bitterness eggplant can have, and the cooking process changes the texture into something much more buttery than spongy. The Argentine-Italian-inspired flavors of oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil pump up the flavor, and combine with the residual vinegar to give it the perfect tanginess.
In Argentina, berenjena en escabeche is often served as part of a shared antipasto before a meal, along with pungent cheeses and other marinated vegetables and olives, but I like it equally well as a sandwich filling on hearty bread with spinach and a mild cheese or tomato and arugula. Or all of the above. You can hold the mayo or mustard, as you won’t need them, or any other condiments for that matter. The dressing is rich in flavor, and will keep your sandwich moist. Make a larger batch to keep in the refrigerator for a month or more.