With fresh, farm-to-table eggplant infused with meaty pork sausage and aromatic herbs and vegetables, this dressing is the perfect backdrop for briny Gulf shrimp. I love how it all combines with Louisiana rice in a casserole that bakes up delicious every time.
Make no mistake, eggplant is the star of this recipe. It is one of those blank-canvas vegetables that take on the flavors of whatever you combine it with. And in the hands of experienced Cajun cooks that understand how to build flavor with bold ingredients, it becomes a center of the table masterpiece seen on many South Louisiana tables.
Yes, I refer to eggplant as a vegetable, as most of you do. However, a quick Google search reveals that it is indeed a fruit. It is an odd ingredient in every way. Almost inedible in its raw state, it is bitter with an unpleasant spongy texture. But once it is sautéed and the sponge-like eggplant begins absorbing the flavors and liquids around it, it becomes magical. I love experimenting with it, and you will see lots of recipes of mine here on the blog and in my cookbook.
I’m using the everyday supermarket purple eggplant in today’s recipe, but when I see the yellow variety or the Italian Rosa Bianca at my farmer’s market, I always load up. Baked, stuffed, roasted, stewed, fried, or in a casserole like this one, eggplant can’t be beaten.
Give this traditional Louisiana recipe a try and discover a new (and easy) dish featuring eggplant.
- 1 tablespoon bacon grease
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 pound raw pork sausage, like Cajun green onion sausage
- 2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- ½ cup dark chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon browning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
- 1 pound jumbo (16/20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the bacon grease. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and once the onions turn translucent, add the sausage and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the eggplant and continue cooking until the eggplant softens. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and parsley along with the cooked rice. Add the chicken stock and browning sauce and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until the stock is absorbed.
- Season with Cajun seasoning and taste the mixture adjusting with more salt and black pepper as needed. Add the shrimp to the pot and combine. Turn off the heat and let the mixture rest until ready to bake.
- In a casserole dish coated with non-stick spray, add the mixture arranging the shrimp on top. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until warmed through and the shrimp turn pink. Remove and serve family-style.
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