I have been mulling over a recipe idea for about a week now since one of my work colleagues came in with a cherry-limeade slushy. So, I kind of deconstructed the flavors in my head, cherries in their own right have a bit of a bite to go along with the sweetness and mixed with the tart of the lime and the sugar I thought they might play well with some types of proteins. I dismissed my original thoughts as silly but wrote them in my food notebook anyway just in case. Then I happened to walk by the cherries in the produce section of the grocery store and again began thinking that I needed to do something with those flavors…but what? Tomorrow will bring another grand experiment in flavors and will be done with pork, which tends to be a good canvas when trying new flavor combinations. There will be a pan seared pork chop which will be then baked with macerated cherries done with limes and Key Lime juice and a bit of brown sugar. We will just see how this works out but in the mean time here is another of the older blog posts that was almost lost on the old site. This was a pretty tasty bake and served quite a few.
Mom always said to look both ways…
Ah yes, yesterday I experienced the dangers of walking in a city crosswalk. (And, by the way, yes, I did have the light). It is not bad enough that I have to drive for four hours a day on my commute submitting myself to the vagaries of cell phone addicted youth and people who are really just too stupid to live but no I have to endure the casual city drivers who have forgotten all of those cute little rules you learn in Driver’s Ed. There I was minding my own business (I even looked both ways mind you) in the crosswalk when an idiot in a small Pontiac hit me! I know it was a Pontiac because I ended up on the hood of the vehicle as he tried to make his “right turn on red”. Not that I would not make a stunning hood ornament, but getting hit is one of the last things I needed after a very stressful day. Luckily, his speed was such that I was able to roll up on the hood and not get injured but it did make my drive home that much more “special”. Enough of my whining because I have to get to today’s recipe.
This was the product of a “food dream”. I was on my hideous commute thinking of other ways to prepare eggplant and this is the result because I happened to be thinking of shrimp at the same time. Don’t ask me why I was thinking of shrimp. I just was. It also may be because I was trying to figure out a totally different way to do shrimp (and to use up the rest of the eggplant I had in the fridge before it turned into a science experiment). I hope you give it a try.
Shrimp and Eggplant Bake
(makes 4 to 6 servings)
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 pounds of 31-41 count shrimp deveined and peeled
Fine bread crumbs Coarse grained salt
1/3 cup (there about) Shredded Parmesan, Romano and/or Asiago cheese1-3 tablespoons olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 (28-ounce) can peeled and crushed, or diced tomatoes 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, optional Salt and coarsely ground fresh black pepper 1/4 cup basil (about 10 leaves), torn
2 tablespoons of dried basil
8 oz of angel hair pasta
Place eggplant in a colander and season generously with salt. Fill a 1-gallon plastic bag with water, seal tightly and place over eggplant to weigh down. Let stand for 40 minutes. Rinse the salt off the eggplant, and pat dry. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add eggplant and cook, stirring often, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 to 10 minutes, maybe less. I lose track. Add garlic, tomatoes and their juice to the pan. Stir in the sugar and salt. Simmer until sauce has slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes or longer depending on how juicy your tomatoes are. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the basil and cook 1 minute more. Spread half of this mixture on the bottom of a 91/2 by 13 baking dish and set to the side.
Take shrimp, wet with water and roll lightly in breadcrumbs. Lightly coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil bring to a low heat and add dried basil. Stir lightly for about 2 minutes. Cook shrimp so that they are slightly brown on either side (about 30 seconds per side). Lay the slightly cooked shrimp in one layer on top of the eggplant and tomato mixture then cover with the remaining mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese mixture over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
During the last five minutes of the baking process cook the angel hair pasta according to package directions, drain well and put into a large mixing bowl. Toss with dried basil, oregano, pepper and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure the pasta is coated well.
Serve the Shrimp bake with the side of angel hair pasta and a nice dry Chianti.