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Sneaky eggplant jambalaya

Lately, the threat of crippling sniffles has kept me mostly indoors. That trapped feeling has helped me finally remember to pack a lunch before work. I’ve even started thinking about weekday lunches when I’m preparing dinner! (Like when I got some extra wonton soup, pictured, from the Chinese delivery place over the weekend. What? Ordering counts as preparing.)

Jambalaya makes tons of leftovers and reheats really beautifully, shrimp and all. Since I’ve been on sort of a superfood kick lately, I decided to make up a version that sneaks in a bunch of good-for-you things.

Like eggplant.

Hear me out.

You’d never know there’s eggplant in it. It lends a little extra richness to the overall flavor, but then it disappears like a spectre into the shadows, leaving behind only a high-mineral-high-fiber memory. That’s right! You’re getting healthy off memories here!

I snuck some quinoa in, too, which looks pretty and makes you feel good about how much protein you’re getting. If you don’t have any on hand, skip it, no harm done. But if you do, throw it in. What else you got? Cranberries? Go for it, they’re catabolic! What, no yogurt?

Just kidding. Ha, ha! Please don’t put cranberries in your jambalaya. Also yogurt. Maybe just… follow the recipe.


Sneaky Eggplant Jambalaya

  • 1 lb hot turkey Italian sausage, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled, shells and tails reserved
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cups rice
  • 3/4 cup raw quinoa, rinsed
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Chicken stock (optional)
  1. In a medium pot, boil shrimp shells and tails in 4 cups water, along with a couple of tablespoons each of your diced onion and diced celery, the bay leaf, and the cloves. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 45 minutes, then strain into a bowl and discard the solids. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut it into 1″ cubes. Set aside (it may oxidize and brown, but that’s all right).
  3. In a big, shallow pot or deep pan, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add sausage. Brown sausage, remove to a bowl, and set aside.
  4. Quickly add onions, peppers, celery, and garlic to the hot pan and cook until vegetables begin to stick to the pan, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from browning. Toss in eggplant and saute for 5–10 minutes. Pour 2 cups of the shrimp stock over vegetables and allow to reduce by half.
  5. Stir in rice and quinoa. Season with cayenne pepper (add additional seasonings, such as garlic powder, as desired).
  6. Put the cooked sausage and the raw shrimp into the pot.
  7. Add the remaining 2 cups of fish stock and any additional water (or, if you rather, chicken stock) needed to completely cover the rice. Return to boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 25–35 minutes or until rice is tender. Check periodically to make sure there’s still some liquid in there; if there isn’t, add more, 1/4 cup at a time, to ensure correct cooking.
  8. Serve hot. The eggplant will have become very soft, so if you wish to eradicate the eggplant evidence, some extra stirring should take care of that. When storing leftovers, allow jambalaya to cool to room temperature before placing in an airtight container in the fridge.

Kristina Ackerman

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.