When I made a meatless feast for my son’s birthday last month, I made one of his favorite things, eggplant Parmesan. At the dinner, my mother turned to me and said, “You make it just like me.”

I hadn’t thought about it, but I do.

Growing up, I always helped her make the dish for many a Sunday dinner. She wasn’t fond of cooking as I am. She wanted to get it done and get out of the kitchen. She found all the steps involved in making eggplant parm “a pain in the neck.” But she loves the dish, as did many at the table.

I rather liked slicing the eggplant, with its unique texture. I didn’t mind the dipping and the coating and I was fine watching the slices fry up in the pan. I had the patience not to burn them.

I don’t even think about it now when I set out to make a baking dish of eggplant. It just comes naturally after all these years.

I warn you that the amounts of egg, flour and breadcrumbs will vary, not just because I don’t measure, but because all eggplants are not the same size. So make this recipe your own with more or less of anything as you like it.

I know there is no Parmesan cheese in this recipe, but that’s just how Mom made it.

Mom’s Eggplant “Parm”

2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 eggplant (see note)
Olive oil, for frying (or canola oil)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1-2 cups marinara sauce

Beat the eggs in a deep bowl.

Mix the flour and breadcrumbs together on a plate.

Peel the eggplant, then cut it into thin slices, well less than 1/4 inch thick.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil into each of two fry pans. Put on medium-low heat. Sometimes I actually mix the canola and olive oil to add the good olive oil flavor.

Set up an assembly line to dip each eggplant slice in the egg before coating in the breadcrumb/flour mix. Then, put it in a single layer in the fry pans. Cook the slices for 2-3 minutes on each side, then drain on layers of paper towel.

Repeat until all eggplant slices are fried. Don’t hesitate to beat an extra egg if you need it for dipping, or to add more oil to the pans if needed. You may have to clean the pan if too much breading has accumulated.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour just enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Put the fried slices on the sauce in a single layer. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and then spoon marinara sauce over to cover cheese and eggplant. Repeat with two more layers.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly. If you like a browned look, remove the foil for the last 5 minutes. Re-cover and let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Note: When buying eggplant, choose a firm, smooth-skinned one. I look for the narrow eggplants (sometimes called the male eggplant) because they have fewer seeds and are less bitter. Smaller eggplants are also my preference for being not so bitter.

Makes 6 servings.

Gail Ciampa is food editor of The Providence (Rhode Island) Journal. Email her at gciampa@providencejournal.com or follow her on Twitter at @gailciampa.