Baked Eggplant with Shrimp, Sausage and Italian Cheeses

I made this dish on a whim one day three years ago and was unintentionally smart enough to take a picture and write down a rough recipe.  I cook mostly by “sight” rather than recipe, so these are approximate instructions. Of course, feel free to add your own touches. Like most good Creole dishes, this one tastes even better the next day.

What you’ll need:

1 pound sausage (your choice; I use andouille, chopped in rounds and then quartered)

1 pound large shrimp (raw, peeled, deveined, and cut into small pieces)

2-3 medium sized eggplant (peeled and cut into rounds no larger than ½ inch thick)

Olive oil

Butter

Dry seasonings (such as Tony’s, cayenne, Old Bay, black pepper, celery seed, etc., to your individual taste)

Fresh parsley (to taste; I used about ½ cup, finely chopped)

Onion (to taste; I used about  ½ cup, finely chopped)

Bell pepper (to taste; I used about ½ cup, finely chopped)

Garlic (to taste, but I used about 4 cloves, finely chopped)

Celery (to taste; I used about 1 tsp of celery seed instead of fresh celery)

Shredded Italian cheese blend (I used Kraft, a little less than a cup)

Seasoned bread crumbs (I used Progresso Garlic & Herb, about a cup)

 

What I did:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Using a 5-quart pot (what you’d cook red beans in, for instance), boil your eggplant. Cut it into rounds or chunks about ½ inch thick. Boil until it’s soft and semi-transparent. I do this by sight, so you’ll have to watch it closely. Once it’s done, drain the eggplant in a colander and set it aside.

Use the same pot to brown your sausage. Chopping it into ¼ to ½ inch rounds and then chopping those rounds into halves or quarters makes it easier to cook and gives the finished product a better “forkable” consistency. Once it is browned, drain the sausage on paper towels and set it aside.

Wipe out this same pot with paper towels and add about a tablespoon of olive oil, the onion and the bell pepper. Cook on a medium fire until the onions are translucent and the bell pepper is soft. They will cook faster if they are cut small. Stir constantly so they don’t burn.

Once the onions are translucent and the bell pepper is soft, add the eggplant back in, still using a medium fire. Use a large stirring spoon or ”gumbo” spoon to roughly chop up the eggplant as you stir. You want some of the water to cook out of the eggplant.

At this point, add butter to taste and mix well. I used about a tablespoon.

Add your sausage back into the mixture at this point, as well.

Stir constantly to keep the mixture from sticking.  Taste a bit and add any dry seasonings you feel it may need here, such as cayenne, black pepper, Tony C’s, Old Bay, etc. (Be careful of the salt level: the sausage, butter, cheese and bread crumbs will all have salt in them.)

At this point, add in your raw shrimp. Keep the fire at medium so that the shrimp cook thoroughly. Stir well and watch the mixture carefully. Once the shrimp are pink and firm, you can turn it off and prep your baking pan.

I recommend a baking pan that’s fairly small so that your casserole is about 2-3 inches thick. Grease your pan/baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray. Add the hot mixture from the pot into your baking dish.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top. Then sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly on top of the cheese.

Place uncovered in a preheated 450-degree oven and bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown. Anywhere from 10-20 minutes.

Take it out and let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes. Then enjoy.

Baked Eggplant

This recipe makes about 5-6 servings.

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