CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Eggplant And Shrimp Pasta

My garden is really starting to produce these days, so my cooking has definitely been on the upswing. And as any cook knows, a good garden is about the biggest blessing you could have.

We’ve been eating green and yellow beans for almost two weeks (steamed and in a three-bean salad), some Roma tomatoes have found their way to our dining room table and we’re about to feast on our third head of broccoli.

And that doesn’t even take into account the pesto I’ve made from home-grown basil, cilantro-laden fresh salsa and all the lettuce and kale we’ve had in our nightly salads, which now include some smaller zucchini squash. The next vegetables on the horizon look like okra, beets and eggplant.

Speaking of eggplant, I took some out of the freezer the other day for the following pasta dish that also features shrimp and mushrooms in a nice tomato sauce. It was wonderful. It seems I always forget that eggplant is such a treat.

I already have some plans for this year’s crop of eggplant, including Ragin’ Cajun Eggplant and Shrimp Skillet and Shrimp Eggplant in Cream Sauce, which will be shared in future blogs, my blessing to you. Stay tuned.

Eggplant and Shrimp Pasta
6 cups of cooked linguine
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2½ cups of cubed and peeled fresh eggplant
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 medium stalk celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups of diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound shrimp with tails removed
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or to taste)
1 tablespoon onion powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon basil (or to taste)
Cook pasta to desired consistency
In a large nonstick skillet add olive oil, minced garlic, onion, celery and mushrooms. Saute until onions and celery start to become translucent.
Add eggplant to the skillet. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until eggplant starts to show the beginning signs of softening.
Add in diced tomatoes, water and spices to taste.
When the sauce begins to reduce by about ¼, add in shrimp and Parmesan cheese. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes to heat shrimp through.
Serve over cooked pasta.
Yield: Serves 6.

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