At this time of year, the energy switches from laid-back, long days of summer into tightly packed schedules for the fall. For the kids (and adults), it’s back to school time. Maybe, it’s back to work after returning from a relaxing vacation. It’s about organizing and preparing for the future, including packing healthy lunches. Impress new friends, fellow classmates or co-workers with these open-faced sandwiches. They’re different from the typical mayonnaise slathered white bread with mystery deli meat and process cheese. These are two Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches with healthy, farmer’s market fresh ingredients on top of whole-grain bread warmly brought from a bakery. One is generously smeared with ricotta cheese. The other is made with lemon hummus. Both use roast eggplants that packs well in wrapped sandwiches for lunch. The ricotta version is topped with sweet, medium-sized shrimp. Buy them raw to boil for at most three minutes, or save time by purchasing a bag of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp. Super thin honey turkey meat from a health food replaces the shrimp in the hummus version. Feta cheese and sliced plum tomatoes placed on top of the hummus balances the flavor with a tender, end of the summer kiss of goodbye sweetness. Instead of using classic iceberg lettuce, try experimenting with other varieties of greens such as fresh whole basil, buttery Boston lettuce and peppery baby arugula. Keep it light by drizzling the sandwiches with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh black pepper and sea salt. These sandwiches help maintain a healthy diet, which is important when schedules become demanding and chaotic.
Serves 2 to 3
1-medium eggplant; sliced 1/4 inch thick
Slices of whole-grain/wheat bread
1/4-cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Lemon hummus; as needed
1/4 lb. frozen and precooked shrimp; thrawed
1/8 to 1/4 lb. honey turkey deli meat; sliced truly thin
1 plum tomato; thinly sliced
1/4-lb baby arugula; as needed
2 to 3 oz. feta cheese
Olive oil; as needed
Red Balsamic vinegar; as needed
Fresh black pepper and season; as needed
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle a lot of sea salt on top of the eggplant slices and let it rest for about 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness from the seeds. Rinse thoroughly and set aside.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Top with eggplant slices. Season with sea salt, black pepper and olive oil. Place baking sheet in the oven. Roast eggplant slices for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from the oven place aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, place a slice of bread on a plate. Smear ricotta or hummus on top of each bread slice.
4. Top with your favorite mix of roast eggplant slices, shrimp, turkey, tomato, arugula and feta cheese
5. Generously drizzle each sandwich with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and sea salt.