2 large purple eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion or 2 shallots diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
Trim ends from eggplants, peel and cut each lengthwise into about four slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Line baking sheet with paper towels and generously sprinkle both sides of each slice with kosher salt. Lay slices flat on baking sheet and cover with more paper towels. (This “sweating” step draws moisture from the eggplant and shrinks its cells. This helps eliminate bitterness and allows slices to be fried without absorbing excess oil.) Allow salted slices to sit for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add onion or shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and continue to cook until vegetables are soft. Turn burner off and let mixture rest. When ready to cook eggplant, blot surface liquid from slices with paper towel, removing any remaining salt. Sprinkle smoked paprika evenly over both sides of each slice. Heat remaining oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook, turning occasionally, until surface begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low and top each eggplant slice with a piece of ham. Divide pepper mixture evenly among eggplant slices. Sprinkle each with Parmesan, if using. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes, or until cheese melts slightly. Serve immediately.
Servings: 4. Serving size: 2 slices eggplant with topping and cheese. Per serving: 207 calories, 8.3 g protein, 9.4 g fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 9.8 g dietary fiber, 225 mg sodium, 11.3 g sugars, 11 mg cholesterol
Cook’s Tip: Thorough drying of eggplant is important; excess moisture will yield a greasy texture.