Turn basic ingredients into lavish meals, all in REHS halls

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Last semester, the Bell-Young kitchen enabled a friendship between Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) major Nick Theyerl (junior) and the Bell-Young cleaning staff. The unlikely cohorts exchanged stories over routine potluck breakfasts.

“They always brought pan dulce on Fridays, and I would make coffee,” Theyerl said in an email.

Apart from Braun and Berkus Halls, all on-campus residence halls provide a communal kitchen like the one used for these breakfast dates. Each kitchen contains a stove, an oven or both. Defined by REHS as “warming kitchens,” they are not designed for cooking full-course meals. According to Chilcott Hall Residential Adviser (RA) and DWA and economics double major Emily Linebarger (sophomore), it would be too expensive for the school to maintain the kitchens at state standards for cooking raw food, such as meat or eggs.

To avoid the inconvenience of waiting for an oven to reheat, foods such as pastas, salads and no-bake desserts are ideal. Three recipes that satisfy the palate and the stomach are pasta alla norma, caprese salad and strawberry parfaits. Such dorm-made meals can provide a fresh twist to the standard, generic foods served at the Marketplace and Cooler.

Pasta alla norma

This recipe requires a sauce pan and a large pot for cooking pasta, materials not typically supplied in the residence halls. The best place to find cookware is Chilcott Hall, where a closet is stocked with assorted pots and pans, which RAs such as Linebarger are more than willing to unlock.

“Anyone can ask. Most of my residents use the closet for big pans and cooking spoons,” Linebarger said.

Ingredients:

1 package frozen, fried eggplant (equivalent of half an eggplant, about 2 cups)

1 bag uncooked pasta (penne is a practical choice, since the hollow center allows it to hold sauce)

Sauce:

1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed

½ yellow onion, diced

water for boiling

salt and pepper to taste

To prepare: Fill pot ¾ full with water and 1 tablespoon olive oil (to prevent pasta from sticking together) and heat until boiling. Once boiling, pour pasta into water and reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pasta approximately 1-2 minutes less than directions on pasta for Italian al dente style.

To prepare eggplant, spread contents of package on a baking sheet and follow instructions on packaging for cook time (about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is crispy).

For the sauce, heat crushed tomatoes in a saucepan with diced onions until the liquids simmer and onions are soft.

Drain pasta and pour into bowl. Stir in sauce mixture and eggplant slices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Caprese salad

With basil picked straight from the plant (accessibility permitting), this Italian appetizer has the freshest flavor on campus.

Ingredients:

12 small mozzarella balls

20 cherry tomatoes

Fresh basil to taste

Dressing:

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

Minced garlic to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss. Allow dressing to soak into tomatoes and cheese for at least 5 minutes, then scoop into individual containers. Since not all residence hall kitchens come equipped with dinnerware, be prepared to improvise for food containers. The caprese salad is easily devoured from plastic cups, which can typically be found in kitchen cabinets after residence hall spreads.

Individual strawberry parfaits

A creamy treat, the parfait puts a summery twist on traditional tiramisu.

½ cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries

1 (8 ounce) container ricotta

1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone

cup sugar

5 graham crackers

Mix water and 1 tablespoon sugar, soak strawberries in mixture for about 10 minutes.

Whip together ricotta, mascarpone and sugar until thick and creamy. Mixture will appear smooth. Line bottom of container with graham crackers. Cover crackers with strawberries and sugar mixture. Scoop several tablespoons of cheese batter onto strawberries. Repeat 1-2 times, or until all ingredients are used.

These easily-prepared delicacies make the most of a residence hall warming kitchen and make enough food for three people, leaving plenty to share with a fellow resident or staff member.

Penne pasta and parfait recipes courtesy of Giovanna Bettoli. Caprese salad recipe courtesy of Lena Smith.

Despite these limitations, students find ways to be creative when preparing food in residence halls. As a freshman in Stewart-Cleland Hall, Japanese studies major Marty Guerero (sophomore) utilized the kitchens on a weekly basis, preparing snacks such as chocolate caramel swirl brownies, cookies and rice spiced with curry. However, he noticed that the kitchens are not always adequate even for the allowed food preparation.

“Updating the machinery would be a great idea. In Stewie, the stove would take a while. I would always see people turning it on and walking away, which is dangerous,” Guerero said.