Go into your grocery store or attend your farmer’s market some weekend. Take a look around. Eggplant is the beauty queen of the vegetable section. Competitors might include a fresh bunch of carrots with their tops still attached (good luck finding those) a curly head of Savoy cabbage or a proud, slender leek. Eggplant even has its own color. Aubergine!
Slim at the top with a little Mrs. Potatohead green hat, this relative of deadly Nightshade widens out with a Rubenesque bottom. What’s not to like?
You can do any number of things with eggplant. Make soup. Fry it in sticks like French fries or in wheels like a green tomato. The beautiful part about fried eggplant, unlike a green tomato, is that eggplant floats while it browns. Just dredge that baby in egg and cornmeal and throw it into the hot vegetable oil.
Or, make a side dish of roasted eggplant, shrimp, cheddar and bacon:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Two large eggplant
1 pound of fresh peeled and deveined shrimp
2 tablespoons of diced ham
½ cup of whole milk
¾ of a teaspoon of salt
½ of a small onion
½ teaspoon of white pepper
½ cup of plain bread crumbs
6 or 8 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
Enough bacon to place one two inch strip of bacon over each slice of cheese
You can either peel the eggplant or not.
Slice your eggplant into ½ inch slices and lay them down in a greased lasagna pan. Spray the top with cooking oil. Cover with foil.
Place in the center of the oven and roast under the foil for about 45 minutes and then take off the foil and roast about ten more minutes to get a slight brown color on the top layer.
Let the roasted eggplant come to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl beat your eggs with the milk, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, ham and the onions that have been chopped fine. Add your cooled eggplant and finally your shrimp.
Pour the whole mess into the same lasagna pan in which you roasted the eggplant. Place your cheese slices on the top the small bacon strips on top of the cheese.
Return the pan to the oven and turn it down to 375 degrees. Allow the eggplant casserole to bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. You want it a little dry and you want the top to brown. You want that bacon a bit crispy.
If you do peel your eggplant you can add a couple of tablespoons of all purpose flour to your mixture and you will get a soufflé-like creation. The skin on eggplant does not want to allow the casserole to rise as the long strips of purple goodness are too heavy for the egg and flour to lift.