Rich, silky, and achingly tender, this decadent, slow-cooked eggplant confit goes to work anytime a dish calls for a rich, savory element. This idea came to us when we were adapting a sandwich recipe (recipe will appear soon), but we've already put it in two other dishes. And when we had one final chunk left with a nearly bare fridge, we found it made it a killer spread when pureed with spinach, white beans, and sun-dried tomatoes. Plus, it's dead simple. Talk about an ace up your sleeve.

Eggplant Confit

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1 large eggplant, or several small (1 lb total weight), trimmed, the skin pierced several times all over the surface, and halved lengthwise

1 cup olive oil

1 large (or 2 small) umeboshi, pitted and minced (this should yield about 1 tsp of minced flesh)

1 tsp liquid smoke

Pour the olive oil into a slower cooker and whisk in the umeboshi and liquid smoke. Add the eggplant, cut sides down, in a single layer (a little bit of overlap is okay, but you want to maximize the eggplant flesh's exposure to the oil).

Cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. Reserve unabsorbed oil for other savory applications.