Recipe by Heather U.
This mixture of eggplant, shrimp, and red bell pepper in a white cheese, savory custard base is so good! I went the reduced-fat route, but you can scale it by whatever artery-hardening factor you'd like (i.e., use full-fat cheese, all whole eggs, and cream). You can also scale it to increase the number of servings, making sure to increase the size of your skillet or other baking dish accordingly (I think my 10" cast iron skillet could probably handle a doubling but I'm not certain).
- 3 cups Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and sliced (cubed if using regular eggplant)
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 7 ounces raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup unsweetened soymilk (cow) or 1⁄2 cup nonfat milk (cow)
- 2 extra large egg whites
- 1 extra large egg yolk
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 1 ounce hard parmesan cheese, grated (divided between custard and topping)
- 2 ounces light farmer cheese, grated (divided between custard and topping)
- 2 brown rice cakes (I used Lundberg brand sesame tamari flavor)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (see Chef notes, last line of instructions)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
Directions See How It's Made
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the eggplant in a colander over the sink and salt well; toss and let drain for half an hour to extract the bitterness.
- While the eggplant is draining, prepare the custard; Whisk to combine the milk, egg whites, egg yolk, nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper; stir in half the grated cheeses and set aside.
- Prepare the crumb topping; Place the rice cakes, the remaining cheese, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of your food processor, fitted with the steel blade; pulse several times until the mixture is crumbly and combined; set aside.
- Heat a 10" cast iron skillet or other oven-proof baking dish over medium heat on your stovetop.
- Add the grape seed or olive oil to pre-heated skillet; Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions, garlic, and red peppers and saute until the onion is softened (a few minutes).
- Squeeze the eggplant of excess water (but not until it’s bone dry) and add it to the onion mixture in the skillet; saute for about 8 minutes until the eggplant is softened.
- Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.
- Add the shrimp and parsley, stir to combine, and saute for 1 minute; definitely don’t overdo it here; shrimp are icky when overcooked.
- Pour the custard mixture over the top so it permeates the entire skillet.
- Spread the crumb topping evenly over the top and press gently to set the crumbs.
- Lightly spray the top of the dish with cooking spray and bake for about 30 minutes in the oven, or until the casserole is bubbly and golden on top; Run it under the broiler for a minute or so if need be to get the desired effect on top.
- Let it sit on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes prior to serving.
- Chef notes: Bread crumbs (or pork rinds for you low-carbers) can be substituted for the rice cakes, although the rice cakes gave a nice light crunch to this dish that I really enjoyed; If you like a more prevalent custard base (the amount here is underwhelming), double the custard ingredients, maybe add 1 T flour, and increase the cooking time accordingly; Old Bay seasoning is a seasoning mix by McCormick; according to their web site,"Old Bay is a zesty blend of a dozen herbs and spices--including celery, bay leaves, ginger, and red pepper--that’s perfect for seasoning summer foods, especially seafood"; if you can’t get it where you are, look for a copycat recipe by typing"old bay seasoning substitute" at your favorite search engine.