baked eggplant rolls with kale and goat cheese
It’s been quite the weekend here at Love Apple. Friday night Adam, Ross and I went to see the legendary George Clinton perform with Big Ol’ Nasty down at Moe’s Alley (funky would be an understatement, I believe) and Saturday morning I found myself strumming a ukulele on the beach playing Johnny Cash and Grateful Dead with 100 other ukulele players and one very enthusiastic leader with a tambourine. The experiences I’ve had in Santa Cruz so far have been varied to say the least, ranging from strolling the Arboretum with my grandfather to cheering on Candy Hooligan at the roller derby, but it’s nice to know I’m somewhere where ukulele players in birkenstocks and roller derby girls in hot pants can peacefully coexist.
Coexistence is something I’ve been thinking about often lately, because we’re all such different people here on the farm. Going to school in New York I was used to the idea of hanging around friends with backgrounds different from my own, but I felt it more poignantly sharing a beer at Moe’s Alley the other night with Adam and Ross—Adam, 29, a former kindergarten schoolteacher from Kentucky with wavy surfer hair, Ross, 21, a culinary school grad with a beard and the heaviest Boston accent I’ve ever heard, and me, 22, a girl from Southern California with South African parents and a freshly minted Ivy League degree. How we all ended up at a dive bar in Santa Cruz listening to funk music and dancing with transvestites on a Friday night is really something of a mystery.
In the end of the day though, we all love food. We come at it from different viewpoints, whether it’s Adam wanting to steer kindergartners away from obesity or Ross knowing the name and specialty of every chef in the restaurant world. Me, I just want to enjoy the intersection of food and friendship, making pancakes in the morning, cheese in the afternoon, and hearty baked vegetables at night. There are so many ways to look at food—as the key to a healthy life, as an art of indulgence, or as the simplest and best way to bring people together. The lessons I’ve learned about growing, cooking and eating food here on the farm are ones that transcend the breakfast or dinner table, because the more I think about it, the more I realize that how we look at food most often reflects how we look at life.
Baked Eggplant Rolls with Kale and Goat Cheese
1 log chevre
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1 handful basil or mint, chopped
red pepper flakes
4 medium eggplants
several handfuls Toscano kale
1 jar tomato sauce
To make the goat cheese filling, mix the chevre with the lemon juice, chopped basil or mint, and red pepper flakes. Slice the eggplants lengthways into thin slices and saute in olive oil until soft and golden brown. Take a small spoonful of cheese and place it on one end of the eggplant slice, then roll the eggplant into a little cheese-filled tube. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish and layer kale leaves on top, then line the eggplant rolls over the kale, filling the dish. Add another layer of sauce and kale, then any remaining eggplant slices and cheese, then more sauce and kale. Finish by sprinkling goat cheese or parmesan on top and baking in a 375 degree oven for half an hour, or until the cheese is toasty and the sides are bubbling. Serve with rice or a warm slice of crusty bread.