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This afternoon I read such a beautiful post, written by a fellow blogger about the impact blogging has had on her life. I couldn't help but smile as she looked back at her first post, and just how far she'd come. An open thank-you to all of the readers who've followed her through all of life's ups and downs, and just how much they've meant to her
It floated in and out of my mind as I went about my day. This evening, I'm following her lead
It's been entirely too long since I've thanked you, friends, for taking a few minutes out of your day to spend them here. Thank-you too for all of the wonderful, kind, and thoughtful comments you've left. Not only here at The Veggies, but on Facebook and Instagram as well. There have been so many of them as of late. They make me smile, and I'm
so very thankful
My sincerest hope is for The Veggies to be a conversation of sorts, a place where we come to swap recipes and dinner plates. A kind of trading post, if you will, where cakes and chickpeas are a perfectly valid currency
In another era, we'd have sat around a firepit, with a cheese plate to pass and a glass of something sparkly in our hand. Talking into the night 'till our heart's content. Instead, we leave comments on our computers. It's a little different; we're missing out on that burnt marshmallow smell (for one), but really ..
it's just as good
For the past few days, I've been thinking about a comment that began, “Yum. I'm gravitating toward simpler foods and .. ” It was only a few sentences really, but it made me stop and think about the way I choose to eat, and why
Quite often, I'm asked about the things I cook, and the recipes I gravitate toward. I always begin with my passion for whole and seasonal foods. Certainly, there are veggies (there are always veggies). There is also growing up on an Iowa farm, the church ladies and grandmothers who welcomed me into their kitchens
At the same time, I still love banana bread and meatballs. My brother's coconut cream pie and cabbage rolls that remind me of my Granny. Ketchup (there will always be ketchup). There's nothing like a good nut butter blondie, and have you ever made a Dobos Torte for a special occasion? Because really, I'm telling you ..
it's not that hard
At times, I'm a little all over the board
For someone who devotes a lot of her thoughts to food, it's still hard to distill it all into a short, coherent, sentence. Why do I eat this way? It’s what feels good, what sounds good, and generally what's good for my body. It's also what someone showed me how to do, somewhere along the way
Maybe my approach to cooking and eating is similar to my approach to life. If I keep putting one foot in front of the other, it will eventually take me somewhere
If I look around enough, I can usually figure out where that somewhere is, and what I can do once I get there. Or, in this case, what I'm able to eat. None of which adds up to a nice, pithy description for the back of a cookbook, but most days it's pretty ok
A work in progress
Lately, I've felt a kinship to the person who left the comment.
My husband and I have been eating simply. Now that the weather has turned nice, I'm gravitating toward meals with as little fuss possible. An egg on sourdough here, a bowl of chickpea and tomato salad there. During really busy weeks we ask our meal service to send us a delivery, so we don't have to plan or stop at the grocery
A spring cleaning of sorts, making room at our table for summer
A recent impromptu get-together with friends. Little baguette sandwiches that were so lovely, so sparse and artfully spread, with just the right amount of butter, cheese, and salty ham to stretch from tip to tip. They were utterly graceful if one can say such things about a sandwich.
I'd love for our table to be laid out that way, with the same sort of beauty, simplicity, and care. Sometimes it's so easy that it takes me
Take last Saturday night, for example. There wasn't much in the fridge, and we weren't especially hungry
A picture-perfect spring evening: still sunny at six thirty under a fading blue sky, so we decided to walk to our neighborhood dive bar for a drink. After an hour or so, we made our way home to start dinner.
We weren't up for much cooking (or wielding anything sharp), so we seasoned some shrimp and tossed them in the oven. While they roasted, we washed some leafy greens, tossed them with vinaigrette and a chopped egg. I dug from the fridge the last of a misshapen slab of bleu d’Auvergne
We sat down fifteen minutes later to what felt like a small victory.
A bowl of rice, topped with spicy shrimp. Alongside was a tangle of greens flecked with yolk, a sweetly pungent cheese to smear on hunks of yeasty bread. When we looked up from our plates a little while later, our wits once more intact, we agreed that it was one of the best meals we've had in a while
It could have been the drinks, of course, but I'm sure it was something else. A meal that was spare, simple, and just enough
The addition to a really nice weekend.
We were so happy to see the sun, opening all of the windows to let the breezes blow through the house. We'd made it through week one (of six) with two puppies recovering from elbow surgery. Life was good. In fact, I felt so inspired by our simple feast that on Sunday,
I decided to continue the trend
— — —
This is the kind of meal I could eat every day and still never grow tired of. It's fast and delicious, dirtying only one sheet pan (two, if you decide to roast the veggies independent of the shrimp, which I think you should)
Did I mention it was delicious?
And that roasted eggplant is wonderful?
Roasted shrimp is sweet and tender, with plump, pink curls that nearly pop in your mouth. Add to them seasoning to enhance their character and heighten the sweetness of the eggplant. The sharp bite of the spices, offset by the cool freshness of the mint. Don't forget the final squeeze of lemon juice; it's key
A few notes about the recipe:
The success of the dish is driven (in large part) by the Cajun/Creole seasoning. Choose (or make) one that you like. One that has little to no salt
The shrimp would also make a great party appetizer (served with toothpicks)
(To what sweet person who left the comment, this one’s for you!)
Spicy Roasted Shrimp with Eggplant and Mint
- Spicy Roasted Shrimp
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- cayenne pepper (no pinch to a strong pinch depending on your heat tolerance)
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp shelled, deveined
- 1 large eggplant (~ 1 pound), cut into 1 ½" chunks
- For Serving
- freshly squeezed lemon juice, for drizzling
- Torn fresh mint leaves for garnish
- Prep the Shrimp
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the first 7 ingredients and whisk until combined. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
- Refrigerate 30 -60 min
- Spread the eggplant chunks on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, a small pinch of fine grain sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper
- Roast, tossing occasionally until lightly browned all over (~ 20 minutes)
- Roast the Shrimp
- Raise the oven temperature to 425° F.
- Transfer the shrimp to the oven, and roast along with the eggplant until the shrimp are just opaque and the eggplant is golden brown and tender (~ 7 to 10 minutes)
- If the shrimp cook through but the eggplant needs more time, remove the shrimp from the oven and continue to roast the eggplant until it has browned
- Finish and Serve
- Combine the shrimp and eggplant on a large platter or onto individual serving plates.
- Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice
- Top with mint leaves, and serve.