I had not been a fan of eggplant parm until about 18 years ago. We were invited over for dinner by a guy who worked for my husband. Joe and Connie, two of the sweetest people ever, wanted us to come over so they could get to know us better. We had just been transferred to Connecticut where my husband was the Chief in charge of the area where Joe worked at the Coast Guard Academy. J was about 25 years younger than Joe but they got along great.
Connie welcomed us with open arms when we arrived, and the house was absolutely filled to the brim with delicious Italian scents. Joe showed us around while Connie completed dinner. After our tour she rushed us into the dining room to get settled. In came platter after platter of amazing food. Pasta with meat sauce, sausages, salads, and eggplant parm. Huh, I thought. I'll take a "thank you" portion of the eggplant parm and force it down. The texture is what I had a hard time with. Although we didn't communicate it at the time, J was planning the same strategy.
After I devoured the "thank you" portion I couldn't believe that I wanted more! It was simple and delicious and J and I both reached for a larger helping at the same time. No slimy texture, no bland sauce. Connie eventually passed away from breast cancer, but before she did she gifted me a collection of her recipes. She and Joe had 3 boys and she had compiled their favorite recipes for their wives so they would be able to make the delicious dishes long after she was gone.
Connie was an amazing woman who taught me more about life than I even realized at the time including a lot about kindness and humility. I hold onto dear memories of our friendship and I treasure each and every recipe she shared. Every single time I make this dish we end up reminiscing about her.
Quick & Easy Eggplant Parm
1 clove garlic
1/2 t. dried italian herbs
1 - 15 oz. can any brand tomato sauce
1 eggplant, end cut off and sliced thin
1 large egg, beaten
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
In a heavy saucepan, add 2 t. vegetable oil over medium heat. Peel clove of garlic, cut in half, and add to hot oil. Once garlic clove is browned, remove and add italian seasonings. Let simmer 5 - 10 seconds, then add tomato sauce and 1/4 c. water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat down and simmer sauce about 1/2 hour.
Mix 2 cheeses in medium bowl and set aside. In a second fry pan over medium-high heat, add 4 T. vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, begin dipping eggplant slices in beaten egg and add to pan. Let fry 30 - 40 seconds, then turn over and fry second side. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Once all eggplant has been fried you're ready to assemble.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9" square dish, add small amount of sauce to bottom of dish. Add eggplant slices, overlapping a little on the sides, a scant ladle of sauce on top, then a handful of cheese mixture. Repeat until all eggplant has been used, ending with cheese.