“Deviled Eggplant with Shrimp” is one of those classic Louisiana entrees which I just love. It is full of the flavor of fresh vegetables and eggplant and the dish is just a little spicy. Add in shrimp and now we’re cooking. The casserole has been around for years with many variations and goes by several other names such as “Eggplant Supreme” and “Eggplant Seafood Casserole.” I liked the title, “Deviled Eggplant with Shrimp,” because, in my onion, it characterizes the cuisine of Louisiana — well-seasoned, just a little on the edge with “hot” and memorable. Has anyone else noticed that their grocery bill receipts have skyrocketed? With eggplant is season, now is the time to save money and cook with these seasonable vegetables.
The term, a “deviled” dish, most often brings up images of “Deviled Eggs” or perhaps the little cans of “Underwood Deviled Ham.” This canned ham is like a ham pate and has been around since 1868. And of course, there is “Deviled Chocolate Cake” which seems to have derived it’s name as being the opposite to “Angel Food Cake.” The term “deviled” dishes first appeared in cookbooks the 1700’s and referred to any food which was fiery hot and spicy. Many foods have been served “deviled” over the year’s including seafood and Underwood’s deviled tongue. Often the dishes, such as eggs, were “deviled” with mustard, hot sauce and mayonnaise. My “Deviled Eggplant and Shrimp” can be made as mild or spicy as you like — just adjust the amount of Tabasco sauce and add in cayenne pepper, if desired.
I purchased two eggplant at a farmer’s market for $1.00. It is good to cook with seasonable vegetables, but the ripe ones spoil quickly. You have to be ready with a recipe to use them. I decided to search through some of my favorite vintage Louisiana-type cookbooks for eggplant casserole recipes. Sure enough, all of these cookbooks included recipe variations using eggplant.
Most of the recipes included the “trinity” of seasonings — onion, bell pepper and celery plus garlic. This combination of vegetables makes its way into many, many Cajun and southern Louisiana recipes. This is a flexible recipe with many variations possible. Instead of shrimp, some recipes used ground beef as a protein. Other recipes substituted crab meat or a combination of shrimp and crab meat while other recipes were vegetarian variations. Cheese was added as an ingredient in several cases. Hot sauce was included in some of the recipes. Bread crumbs or the traditional ingredient, stale bread soaked in water, were used for binders.
All the vegetables in the “trinity” of seasonings (onion, bell pepper, celery) impart flavor into this eggplant dish. Although it might be tempting to omit one of them, you will miss some of the character of this dish. Often fresh parsley is added to this type of recipe. Parsley doesn’t grow in the hot Louisiana summer sun; I added some dried parsley flakes for flavor. And although garlic is not a true member of this trio of seasonings, it is almost always added to these recipes.
Recipe for “Deviled Eggplant with Shrimp”
For my recipe, I combined the features of recipes from these vintage cookbooks which I like and best conveyed the flavor of the recipe. Here are the rest of the ingredients for this recipe.
For the shrimp, I used raw, frozen peeled shrimp without the tails. These shrimp were even deveined. Defrost the shrimp prior to using.
Making the Recipe
This recipes does have several steps. To make things easier, get all the ingredients ready before you begin — peel and dice the eggplant, chop up the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Defrost and rinse the shrimp. Butter — or oil — the casserole dish and heat the oven. Then you are ready to go.
Peel, dice and boil the eggplant. You really need to pre-cook the eggplant and other ingredients. Although the casserole is baked in the oven, this only heats the ingredients, it doesn’t cook them. You will end up with raw eggplant, if you don’t boil it first.
Then the rest of the casserole preparation goes along easily. Saute the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until they are tender and the onion is translucent. Add the defrosted shrimp and season with Creole seasoning and cook just a few minutes begin the shrimp begins to turn pink. Then add the cooked eggplant and stale soaked bread.
Adding stale bread may seem a bit unusual. However, stale bread is traditionally used as a binder or thickener in many of these vintage recipes. I didn’t have “white” bread and substituted whole wheat bread and several stale hot dog buns. Pull the bread into small pieces. Then add a little water to soak the bread. Squeeze out all the water that you can squeeze and add the soaked bread to the casserole. This is a very moist casserole, you don’t need too much extra water added to the mix.
It is also time to add the rest of the spices which dial up the “heat” — black pepper, Tabasco Sauce and optionally, cayenne pepper. I added about 8 drops of Tabasco Sauce — a little goes a long way. If you really like “hot” dishes, then add a few dashes of cayenne or red pepper. However, I like this “deviled dish” mildly flavored in heat since to much hot pepper sauce and cayenne can spoil the flavor in my opinion.
Pour into prepared casserole dish which is buttered (or oiled). Top with bread crumbs which have been mixed with butter and bake.
When the casserole is bubbly and the crumbs are browned, it’s time to eat. Remember, the cooking time isn’t long enough to “cook” the eggplant or vegetables — you must do that on the stove first. The baking just melds things together.
Serve the casserole casserole either as an accompaniment or a main dish — it serves four people who are hungry as a main dish or six people as a side dish. The shrimp adds flavor, however, two cups of raw shrimp is really not alot for an entree. I served this casserole with ripe Creole tomatoes and marinated cucumbers. Typically, you could add potato salad to this meal.
This is a great eggplant dish. Love our Louisiana recipes. Enjoy!
Cajun Deviled Eggplant with Shrimp
- 2 medium eggplants (5 cups diced pulp)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups (8 oz) raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, without tails — 51 to 70 count size (if frozen, defrost prior to adding to casserole)
- 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- 4 slices dry or stale bread, torn into small pieces
- 1 tsp dry parsley, or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp (about 8 drops) Tabasco Sauce
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper, if desired
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Instructions and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. With small amount of the butter, grease bottom and sides 9″ x 9″ casserole dish.
- Peel eggplant and cut into small diced pieces. Boil in small amount of water with 1/2 tsp salt added. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In large skillet, saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in 1 Tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Cook until onion is translucent and bell pepper, celery are soft, about 15 minutes..
- Increase heat to medium-high setting. Add drained shrimp and sprinkle with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Stir constantly and cook until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Over low heat, add drained eggplant to mixture in skillet and stir until combined.
- Soak bread pieces in a small amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Squeeze out excess water and add to mixture in skillet. Stir to combine.
- Place mixture in buttered casserole dish.
- Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter in microwave. Stir in bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of casserole.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until casserole is bubbly and bread crumbs have browned.