susannah's eggplant stew improv (with shrimp, chicken or tofu)
The occasion was a big family cookout on the new Home Depot designed and brother-in-law
executed big high-rise back deck. This brilliant home improvement made every day seem like
an island vacation since it facilitated the pleasant experience of the natural backyard
breezes up at the second floor level (really the first floor but the house is elevated for
some reason). Of course shish-kebob and grilled chicken were the headline food lineup, but
apart from salad some sides were needed to round out the meal. Susannah had some fresh
shrimp and an eggplant on hand so the question was how to whip up something tasty with
these two star ingredients. Her result was terrific, and even the neighbor got addicted
with the leftovers later that night. Repeatedly made for many eager recipients. Except
Susannah. Who won't eat eggplant. How she eyeballs all the spice measurements without even
tasting it is a mystery. Each time bob tries it, the flavor is better than the previous
time. But when we tried it at home, an impatient weekday night, we didn't simmer it long
enough and the eggplant was still too chewy. Don't rush this one to reach its delicious
potential. Works also with chopped up grilled chicken, or for vegetarians, tofu.
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed small (3/81/2 in?)
- 1 t salt
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 15 oz can peeled tomatoes
- 2/33/4 same can water
- 12 T lemon juice
- 1/2 t pepper
- 1/2 t Middle Eastern red pepper or a hit
of cayenne to taste
- 2 lb fresh or precooked shrimp, or some adequate amount of small cubed grilled or fresh
chicken breast, or tofu
- Do the eggplant, onion and garlic prep work.
- Sauté the onion in olive oil until softened.
- Add the eggplant and salt and soften up the eggplant while browning the exterior a bit.
- Put in the garlic and briefly cook without burning it, tossing it around until it
releases a bit of flavor.
- Add the tomatoes, water and spices and simmer for about 30 minutes, no less.
- Towards the end add in the shrimp and cook till they turn pink and are done. If using
precooked shrimp, even less time is required to just heat them through.
- If using grilled chicken they can be added near the end to be warmed up to the dish
- If using fresh chicken or tofu, it can be sautéed with the eggplant.
- The tricky part is the hot red pepper spice level. These measurements are just guesses,
so some experimenting for personal taste variation is required. But it needs just the
right kick without being overly spicy so don't wimp out here or go overboard.