This vegetable antipasti platter uses simple, straightforward techniques to not only preserve eggplant, wild mushrooms, and slow-roasted tomatoes, but to concentrate and intensify their flavors.
Preserving vegetables in oil is a long-established means of saving a glut of summer produce for scarcer months. Roasting tomatoes very slowly in oil preserves them, intensifies their flavor and gives them a silky melt-in-the-mouth texture. I like to griddle my eggplant to give them a slight smokiness before preserving. These lightly pickled wild mushrooms are delicious and extremely versatile. My guilty pleasure is piling them high on a piece of toast slathered in homemade labneh.
[Editor’s Note: You can choose to make any individual component of these or you can make ‘em all at once. If the latter, make them in the order they appear, beginning with the tomatoes and making the eggplant and mushrooms while the tomatoes are in the oven.]–Theo Michaels
How can I serve this vegetable antipasti plate?
These Italian-style mushrooms, eggplant, and tomatoes are delicious served as an antipasti plate with plenty of rustic bread for dipping in the seasoned oil. To make a more substantial grazing board you could add some good marinated olives, a few chunks of Parmesan, a fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese and/or slices of cured Italian meats. These vegetables also work brilliantly as an ingredient in a host of recipes, from salads to pasta dishes, or do as I do and just spoon them straight onto some bread rubbed with garlic to enjoy as a sneaky snack.
Vegetable Antipasti Plate
For the oven-roasted tomatoes
For the preserved eggplant
- 2 (about 18 oz) Japanese eggplants cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch (2-cm) lengths, or 1 globe eggplant, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch (2-cm) rounds
- 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
- Scant 2 cups cider vinegar
- Scant 2 cups cold water
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup mild vegetable oil or olive oil
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 whole dried chile pepper
For the preserved wild mushrooms
- 18 ounces mixed wild mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelle, chestnut, and morel, cleaned and halved if large
- Scant 1 3/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- Scant 1 3/4 cups cold water
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
Make the oven-roasted tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
- Halve each tomato, cutting from the top down through the stalk, and then squeeze gently to pop out the watery ﬂesh and seeds or use a spoon to scoop them out.
- Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer in a deep-sided roasting pan or baking dish. Pour in just enough oil to fully cover the bottom of the dish.
- Add the thyme sprig, scatter the garlic slices over the top, sprinkle with the sugar, and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Bake until the tomatoes have dried out and become wrinkled, 2 to 4 hours.
☞TESTER TIP: The size of your tomatoes will affect your cooking time. Smaller cherry tomatoes will be cooked much sooner than larger beefsteak or roma tomatoes.
- Transfer to a 3-cup capacity jar, topping up with additional olive oil if needed. Store in the fridge and eat within 2 weeks.
Make the preserved eggplant
- Place a colander over a bowl, add the sliced eggplant, and sprinkle with salt. Place a small plate and a heavy can or other weight on top and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Discard any liquid that collected in the bowl. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water and then squeeze them dry with a clean towel.
- Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until almost but not quite smoking. Lightly brush with oil and then cook the eggplant slices until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the vinegar and cold water and bring to a boil. Once you’ve got a rolling boil going, drop the eggplant slices in and cook for 2 minutes.
- Move the eggplant slices to a rimmed baking sheet and slide them into the oven for 15 minutes.
- In a sterilized 3-cup capacity jar, combine the oils and the oregano, thyme, garlic, and chile, give it a gentle shake, and add the eggplant slices, ensuring they’re fully submerged in the oil. Screw on the lid, store in the fridge, and eat within 2 weeks.
Make the preserved wild mushrooms
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, mustard, bay leaves, salt, and sugar. Add the cold water and bring to a boil.
- Drop in the mushrooms and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for about 12 minutes, agitating them a little by poking with a wooden spoon as they cook.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop the mushrooms out of the cooking liquid onto a clean tea towel/dish cloth (it’s okay to leave some of the mustard seeds behind) and gently pat dry.
- Spread them out on the lined baking sheet and bake until just dried out, 20 to 25 minutes.
- In a 2-cup capacity sterilized jar, combine the olive and vegetable oils and add the mushrooms. Make sure they are submerged in oil (top up with more if any are not). Seal and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I made the preserved wild mushrooms. I used some local porcini mushrooms that I found at a farmer’s market on Cape Cod. These mushrooms were the star of antipasto picnic platter—earthy, buttery, and irresistible eaten straight out of the jar or piled high on a piece of crusty bread.
I placed half the mushrooms in a bowl and sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes over the top, which gave the mushrooms a perfect amount of kick. I also enjoyed them with a piece of fresh basil, so I think I have my sights set on topping pasta with these mushrooms and some chopped basil. We also had some fresh farmer’s cheese made from cow’s milk, a sharp Cheddar, bread slices, hummus, and fresh red peppers.
I dried them on a clean dish towel and placed them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It took 25 minutes for the mushrooms to be dried out.
After covering with oil in a covered jar, I refrigerated the mushrooms for 24 hours before enjoying them.
I specifically tested the preserved wild mushrooms in oil and the oven-roasted tomatoes in oil.
The mushrooms were quite good. I used cultivated cremini mushrooms…but look forward to using wild mushrooms next time for even better results. I mostly had to cut them in half or even quarters. The vinegar flavor was a bit strong and astringent; I might add more mustard next time to provide a slightly rounder flavor. The texture of the mushrooms after boiling and drying was surprisingly nice—not spongy or unpleasant, as you might expect.
We enjoyed them out of the jar as we would pickles, although I imagine that combining them with hummus or labneh on grilled bread slices or in a green, leafy salad would have been very nice, too. Next time!
I didn’t appreciate the need for using two different oils when jarring the mushrooms to save in the fridge. I’ll probably just stick with EVOO.
These tomatoes were wonderful—and a bit addictive! I’ve made them twice now and will substitute this version for all my other oven-dried tomato recipes going forward. I think the key to these umami-rich little gems is the de-seeding and removal of the watery flesh. Most other recipes don’t include that step and with it, the end result is pure, intense tomato.
I also like the inclusion of garlic, although I’d suggest using a few more cloves. (But then whenever you say 2 cloves garlic, I will always read that as 4 cloves of garlic! Can you ever have enough??!) The pinch of brown sugar was interesting and unusual, but also beneficial to the end result. I used Campari tomatoes for one test and Roma tomatoes for a second test. I preferred the riper Camparis.
One change I will make next time: I didn’t see the need for so much oil during the roasting. I think the recipe would work just as well with much less than 1 3/4 cups. As long as the tomatoes have a low bath of oil on the bottom of the pan, they will come out just as plump and soft. Depending upon the size of the roasting pan used, I might reduce that to 1 cup. I used an oval ceramic casserole that kept the tomatoes close together and the oil contained. As written with the full measurement of oil, the tomatoes are more of a confit (bathed in oil), but I think I would prefer having less oil and allowing a bit of browning and caramelization along the exposed edges of the tomatoes when cooked with less oil.
All in all, this is a clever recipe, and one I’ll make frequently, as it would seem to work well with both beautiful summer tomatoes as well as with less wonderful winter selections, which will actually improve for the oven roasting.
In addition to using on a cheese or charcuterie board, we’ve enjoyed these on sandwiches, in pasta, as part of a pan sauce for sautéed chicken or fish, and straight out of the jar for an intensely flavorful snack.
At first glance, I have to admit being a little taken aback at the full amount of oil with the tomatoes, but once I realized this was more of a tomato confit, not roasted in the traditional sense, I was all on board. My next-door neighbor is a talented gardener and farmer, and has been ringing us up to meet at the gate in our common fence to share boxes of vegetables and fruit all summer.
Right now, the tomatoes are coming on and we had a beautiful selection to choose from. I also was excited to not have to remove the skin, since they had deep furrows and pleated tops. The prep is just a few minutes, and I checked the roasting dish hourly. The olive oil came up about halfway on the sides of the tomatoes. I had tucked the garlic into the seeded crevices, making sure it and the thyme had olive oil coating and would infuse the most flavor.
At 4 hours, the tops had indeed shrunk and wizened, but were not caramelized (like higher temperature roasted methods would yield). I let them cool a bit, then ladled them gently into a wide mouth jar (a wider shallower vessel would work as well) and reserved a cup of the oil in another jar to use for dressings and poaching. There was no need to add oil.
If I was using smaller tomatoes (like the dry-farmed Early Girls I love so much), I expect this might take less time, so your variety and size of tomatoes may influence how far you take them and check on the hour.
My favorite uses were on thin crust pizzas (especially nice with fresh mozzarella) as well as antipasti served with large olives, more mozzarella, and agai, with ricotta and a sprinkling of preserved lemon to accent with a contrast of salty acid. I think I will be surprised if the batch lasts 5 days with 2 of us, but if you served a whole platter of this to serve 6 to 8 people you will want to include other elements, like the mushrooms and eggplant included in this recipe, olives, and freshly made ricotta or mozzarella, with crusty bread to sop up every last bit of the oil.
I do think you’ll find it tasty on all sorts of things and happily will eat some straight off a spoon, thank you very much!
Heirloom tomatoes obviously vary, but these were particularly thin skinned (which is delightful to eat) and you need to be careful in removing them from the jar to keep the increasingly delicate tomatoes intact. By the third day, they seemed more delicate. The flavour is wonderful! Normally, when I have roasted tomatoes, I would buy a flat of dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes from local Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz County but not at this time. Their tomatoes are maybe 2 inches or less in diameter and would probably hold up beautifully and more whole, while the beautiful fully ripe larger tomatoes my neighbor grew (how local can you be!) slightly fall apart when you are plating, but for bruschetta or an antipasti plate they are fine, and on a thin crust pizza or added to some freshly cooked beans or rice, they are magically tasty. I served them with crusty bread and fresh mozzarella and ricotta, with a confetti sprinkling of preserved lemon over the top as a first course. I plan to use them to finish fish which I am poaching in the extra leftover oil this evening. This method captures height-of-season flavors, and it certainly would work to intensify even less-than-perfect tomatoes.
If you want an easy appetizer that looks like you bought it at a fancy gourmet market, try this one! Besides being a perfect way to use fresh tomatoes, the uses for this recipe are seemingly endless. I served the tomatoes on slices of a toasted baguette with goat cheese and salami. They would be a delicious addition to any salad, sandwich, or pasta dish. The leftover olive oil would be great sautéed with fresh vegetables and any protein.
I used 3 beefsteak tomatoes and 3 Roma tomatoes to equal 2 1/4 pounds. I used 1 3/4 cups regular olive oil in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan. I think 1 cup would work just as well and leave less leftover; I didn’t need to add more oil to the jar with 1 3/4 cups
The tomatoes were a little dried and wrinkled at 4 hours of baking. I did not notice a change in taste after a few days, but do prefer the tomatoes at room temperature as opposed to cold from the refrigerator.
The oil solidified after 2 days in the refrigerator, so I would recommend using within 1 day or storing at room temperature. I am tempted to add 1 onion, cut into thick slices, the next time I make this; I think that would be a nice additional flavor.
This is a delightfully easy and delicious recipe. One so tasty and popular, I will be making again and again to store in our fridge. I used Romas for this test. I absolutely love the versatility in these tomatoes. We used them cold in salads, warmed as a side for grilled steaks, and room temperature with cheese and crusty bread. Will be adding them to our holiday charcuterie platter for sure!
Simply amazing. It took time…but worth every minute.
I got small eggplants. I was afraid to use that much vinegar but I did. I was afraid, what it will do to my eggplants…but it was like a miracle when I took them from the oven and put in the oil (mixed olive oil and sunflower). I love the taste so much…Iwas afraid it would need salt, but no, it was enough salty flavor from the first step. The taste is nice, soft, and yummy.
(Do you have any idea what, though, to do with this vinegar and water? I added some sugar, salt, coriander, and mustard seeds and used it to preserve some beetroot.)
I have to say, I’ll do the oven-roasted tomatoes in oil more often. I never thought it’d be so easy and delicious. I could eat it all alone, without anything, just from the jar. I used mixed cherry tomatoes and, if I’m right, it was 25 pieces. As I used cherry tomatoes, they needed less time in the oven, around 90 minutes.
A Filipino chef with a stand at my farmers market has taken to bringing me produce from her home garden, and I was gifted a variety of red tomatoes last week—round, cherry, and Roma, among others. These were tasty on a fork, excellent on bread rubbed with garlic, would be tasty in a salad or as a salad garnish, and definitely in pasta dishes.
Halving the tomatoes and squeezing them didn’t consistently pop out the watery flesh and seeds, and I used the pointiest spoon in my drawer to assist. I used 1 cup of olive oil (which was the correct amount to fully cover the bottom of my baking dish) and roasted the tomatoes for the full 4 hours.
The number of servings is dependent upon the use; as I served it, the 8 to 10 servings could be accurate, but could also be less if everyone gobbled them up the way I did. I had both fresh mozzarella and a 2-year aged Parmesan on hand, so I served the tomatoes and the cheeses together alongside a nice crusty bread, perfect as described for dipping into the oil. I added olives to the plate, and it rounded out my substantial snack, which could also have been an appetizer for a couple of us. After eating my snack, I shared the rest, so they never made it to the fridge.
Originally published December 19, 2020