by MELISSA GORDON
If I started a book club, the first book we would read would be “The School of Essential Ingredients” by Erica Bauermeister. If you’re ever feeling down about the state of the world — or even if you’re not, and you’re just looking for a good read — this beautifully written book will nourish you with its slow, deliberate stories, where both ingredients and emotions are handled with respect and honor. As the author delicately weaves together food and relationships, the reader can’t help but find renewed joy in both.
For me, the loveliest part of the book is that it was recommended by my manager, who is the general manager of Winona’s food co-op. I am grateful that the values of the book have inspired her, and I can see them reflected in her leadership and in how our store approaches both food and people. Read on! Cook on!
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Adapted slightly from CookingLight.com
• 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
• 2 (1/4-inch) vertical slices small eggplant
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, softened
• 2 (1 1/2-ounce) rustic sandwich rolls
• 2 (1/4-inch) slices tomato
• 1 cup arugula
• Optional: Balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 275°.
2. Brush one teaspoon olive oil over eggplant.
3. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add eggplant; cook five minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Spread about one tablespoon of goat cheese over cut side of each roll half. Place rolls on a baking sheet, cheese sides up; bake at 275° for 8-10 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
5. Remove toasted rolls from oven. Dress bottom half of each roll with one eggplant slice, one tomato slice, and 1/2 cup arugula. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired. Top sandwiches with top halves of rolls.