I have argued back and forth with myself if I should share this recipe or not.
The flavors of zucchini, eggplant and cheese paired with a homemade marinara sauce and cooked slowly over a few hours have created a casserole that left my tummy very satisfied.
With a satisfied belly and flavors that proved to be wonderfully matched, why would I not want to share this dish?
Quite simply, the dish was difficult to photograph. I could have spent more time arranging each piece of eggplant, every drop of sauce or place the spinach just right.
There is a bit of chatter among bloggers and photographers about how much is too much when it comes to photographing food.
I admit that I spend more time than some because I want the presentation and the props to create a mood, setting or feel along with the food that is presented. This is not from a desire to have the perfect dish but more from a sense of working in the business, experience and years of looking at food in magazines, papers and on blogs.
When I first started years ago I did not know all of the tricks of the trade. My lighting was off, the silverware was placed wrong or my focus was off, too much bokeh usually. Bokeh is the blur you create in the background of most images.
It took me lots of trying, playing, researching and developing of my own skills before I started taking the pictures I wanted. Even today I get all jelly-legged and excited when I come across a blog or picture that causes me to stop and stare in awe. When this happens I reevaluate my own photography skills and try to determine what I need to improve upon.
I believe that we are in a constant state of improving when it comes to mastering our own craft. My craft happens to be photography and cooking. Someone else's may be sewing, computer programming or design.
Getting back to this recipe, I felt that the images would not conjure up the desire in my readers to give this dish a try solely on the basis of the image.
When I see the pictures this is how I feel, this is what it invokes in me. My mind is a dreamer, a drifter and a romantic. I see a hearty meal prepared by loving hands. I want to imagine a family that has been hard at work in the fields of the farm, working the soil and creating a deep hunger with in themselves as the hours pass by. I go back to a time with castles, moors and moats. I see the tartan plaid worn by the village people, the pottery plate and the silver utensils. All ready to hold the feast that is rich in flavor, texture and color. It stirs a warmness in my belly. I see the sauce being soaked up by a loaf of warm bread. I see a meal that is fit for a hungry man.
A picture is worth a thousand words. It tells far more than we may want to believe. It is the first contact that you have with a recipe. It stirs your taste buds, reminds you of a memory.
This is why I was worried that you may or may not find this dish appetizing. If you have made it this far I am grateful that you took the time to dig a bit deeper. The Eggplant Parmesan Casserole is a keeper in my home. It may not look like much but I can't wait to prepare it again.
When a recipe does that to a person, then you know it's a winner.
Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
- 1 large eggplant, peeled
- oil for pan
- 2 cups of flour
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 egg
- 2 cups of fresh spinach, washed
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch
- 5 slices of provolone cheese
- 1 package of fresh mozzarella, the log
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 4 cups of marinara or meat sauce, homemade or store bought
NOTE: To make this dish gluten free, I used an equal combination of almond meal and brown rice flour to dip my eggplant in. You can also use white rice flour.
Preheat oven 350. This dish was created to use in dutch oven or deep oven proof stone bowl. Below is a picture of the dish that I used.
To prepare the eggplant: Peal the eggplant with a potato peeler. This makes the eggplant less bitter. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the milk and one egg to another bowl. Dip each slice into the milk and then the flour. Fry on each side until golden brown. Set aside.
When you have the eggplant fried, zucchini sliced, spinach washed then you are ready to start layering your dish. I mixed and matched my layers with veggies, using the three cheeses through the dish.
This is an example of how I layered mine.
Cover the casserole with a lid or foil.
Bake the casserole for 1 hour and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Pictures below will help you see some of the layers.