SECTION FINALLE: SPECIAL RECIPE FOR EGGPLANT LOVERS
A tasty shrimp and eggplant dish that "hints" of gourmet without being to tough for the average home cook...and make it romantic finish with an “Affagado”! It does require a simple “day before chore”.
Garlic & Basil Stuffed Eggplant:
Start with the Eggplant First:
The day before
Peel 3 baby eggplant
Cut in half, length wise
Put in large bowl; cover them with water and salt liberally (I mean HEAVY ON THE SALT; the object is to have the salt water draw some of the natural juices out of the eggplant. Place a small plate on them to keep them submersed in the salted water. Place in fridge over night.
The next day when it is time to start cook'in
The next day (when you are ready to cook) chop 1 medium yellow onion. In a large skillet, put about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Place the onion in the skillet and simmer on medium-low heat until the onion is translucent (not brown). Remove the onion, not the oil.
While the onion is cooking
Chop about 10 cloves of garlic and a bunch of fresh basil; mince the two together
Remove the eggplant from the salted water and lightly rinse and pat dry
Place the eggplant on a cutting board, flat side down, and slit them lengthwise from end to end, 1/2 inch apart. Do not slice them all the way through or all the way to the end.
Stuff all of the slits in the eggplant with the finely minced basil/garlic mixture
The onion is out of the pan, now its time to cook!
Turn the heat up to medium high heat
Place the stuffed eggplant in the skillet and carefully role them in the oil right away to coat it on all sides (if you just place it in the pan it will soak up the oil like a sponge on one side); then cook until it is brown on all sides by turning them (prop them up on each other so they don't flop over when you are trying to brown them on the curved sides)
After the eggplant is browned, turn the heat down to low and place the onion back in the skillet over the eggplant
Add 1 large can of diced Italian Style (Roma) tomatoes (you can substitute whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes that you run a knife through while in the can or the same tomatoes in a crushed variety if you prefer)
Cover the skillet and simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour; remove lid and finish by simmering until sauce thickens slightly.
The Shrimp half of the dish
With 15 minutes left before your eggplant is finished, start another sauté’ pan by going 4 times around a medium skillet with extra virgin olive oil, turn the heat on medium-high
When the oil is hot, place about 12 extra large shrimp (shells on for flavor) & 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled & crushed, in the pan. Keep turning the shrimp until it is red and begins to curl (about 1-2 minutes)
Add about 1/3 cup of good dry white wine and 1/3 cup chicken stock (you can always substitute vegetable stock) (just eye ball it), along with a couple of pinches of parsley and basil; simmer on 5 mins.
Pasta or not to complete the dish
- For a more traditional dish and if you don't mind the starch and carbs, cook yourself up some of your favorite pasta. I prefer a good quality 100% Italian semolina pasta, for this dish most likely linguine. I would cook it el'dante (firm) and finish it by tossing it in a hot skillet of garlic oil to "singe" it. (I always have EVOO [extra virgin olive oil] with simmered garlic in it on hand; all you have to do is put some EVOO in the skillet with some sliced garlic; be careful not to burn the garlic)
- For a dish with less starch/carbs, get some nice Italian bread and brush it with some of that garlic EVOO and throw it in the broiler until brown for some nice crostini...and just place the shrimp on a slice or two to soak up the excess "juices" (but beware, it is awfully hard not to eat the toast if you are counting those calories!)
Its time to serve!
Place 2 eggplant halves on a large dish, cover with some of the tomato 'sauce' and garnish with a sprig of that fresh basil that you saved for this purpose. Off to the side put down the base of a couple of those nice crostini or "singed" pasta and place 4 of those beautiful shrimp on top...make sure they have enough of their broth to make them 'glisten'.
* Top the dish with slivers or Parmesano Regiano cheese
Grab yourself a nice bottle of wine, throw a log on the fire and enjoy!