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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Mistry dishes up dining hall delights

With another week comes another round of meals in the Dining Hall. For some, this means crushing boredom with their meals. For us, however, it means another few days to experiment and play with our food. Let us make unusual culinary creations, edifices of edible artwork. Enjoy this week’s selected experiments in entrees, and eat well, my friends.
Want pasta? Bored with our quick-and-easy, ever so delectable macaroni and cheese? Today we will class up your pasta, give it that pizzazz that it needs. This week, it is all in the sauce. Begin by grabbing a small bowl, either a soup bowl or a stir-fry meat bowl, and head over to the spreads station by the toasters. Add a sizable scoop of cream cheese to the bowl (about the same amount used to top a bagel) and also add in about a spoonful of butter or smart balance. Next, pick up a plate of plain pasta from the quick-serve pasta line. Add some Parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings, cracked black pepper, and dried red peppers from near the pizza station to your cream cheese and butter combination, then proceed to the microwaves. Add a few shakes of the dried garlic into the sauce mix, and microwave it for about 20 seconds. Take it out, stir it quickly, and microwave it for another 10 to 20 seconds. It should be bubbling slightly. Quickly scoop it onto your waiting pasta. Any leftover sauce can be spread on toast for gourmet garlic bread.
Another great variation comes from shredding spinach into small pieces to fill a larger stir-fry bowl, then microwaving it with this sauce and an additional helping of mozzarella cheese. It tastes great on pasta, sandwiches, and more. Also, it is an easy way to sneak spinach into your diet.
Speaking of sneaking vegetables into your diet, there are some really simple ways to make your vegetables taste great. For a sweet, nutritious end to your meal, fill a condiment cup with honey and get a small bowl of your favorite Dining Hall cereal (I go for vegan granola for this dish) without milk. Next, gather as many carrots as your want from salad bar. Dip your carrot in honey, and then roll it in cereal. Not only are you eating vegetables, but honey is also a healthful sweet treat. The cereal adds even more crunch to the carrots.
Fruit is always a great add-on to any meal. As oranges and clementines come into season during the winter, I am always looking for ways to add them to my meal. First, try dressing up a salad with some orange slices, scallions and sprouts from stir-fry bar, and a vinaigrette or dash of soy sauce. This salad is both unusual and highly flavorful, a desirable combination on a dreary day during finals. Another great use for oranges is as a dessert. First, peel your orange and lay out the slices on a plate. Apply a subtle amount of chocolate sauce, caramel and honey, and then top with a very slight garnish of cinnamon. Enjoy this alongside a small bowl of vanilla ice cream. The sweetness of the vanilla, caramel, chocolate and honey contrast beautifully with the tart citrus of orange and the spice of the cinnamon. The play of the different flavors is almost symphonic.
Food is beautiful. While it may take time to craft your meal, the end result is utterly worth the effort. As you sit down to enjoy your handmade dishes, you can take joy in the fact that you are eating a completely unique item. It was made by you, for you, and the satisfaction gained from cooking for oneself is immeasurable. Go forth, Grinnell Diners, and make some magnificent meals.

-Eric Mistry ’14

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