Stuffed, pickled eggplant

I don't know why I have been cooking so many Iranian recipes lately, but they have been delicious. This is another Iranian recipe, this one combines two of my favourite ingredients, eggplant and walnuts. In fact, the walnut stuffing for this recipe has become one of my new favourite things!

Stuffed, pickled eggplants

- 10 long thin eggplants

- 200 g walnuts

- 2 cloves garlic

- 1 or 2 red chillies

- salt and pepper

- olive oil

- apple cider vinegar

Cut off the tops of the eggplants and prick them a few times each with a fork. Boil in a large pot of water for 15 minutes and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice each eggplant lengthways and place flesh side down in a colander. Put a bowl on top of the eggplants to weigh them down and leave the to drain for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, crush the walnuts in a mortar and pestle (I found crushing a small amount at a time was easiest and resulted in a more uniform texture). Crush the garlic, chop the chilli and combine with the walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste and drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the walnuts. Stir it all up and leave to sit until the eggplants are ready.

Next, spoon a small amount of the walnut mixture into the centre of the eggplants. This is the sightly tricky bit. I squashed the flesh of the eggplant slightly to create a cavity for the walnut mixture, filled the eggplant and then pressed the eggplant closed. Lay the stuffed eggplants in a long flat container (like a tupperware or take away container) and spoon 2 teaspoons of vinegar over each eggplant, drizzle a very generous amount of olive oil over the whole thing and put in the fridge for a few hours before eating.

If you plan to store this pickle for longer than a week, make sure it is submerged in olive oil and store it in the fridge.