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Dining Hall Dish

Observer Scene | Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not everyone is going to agree with me on this one, but tuna is delicious. Despite the problems having to do with over-fishing (an issue that sadly and inevitably affects nearly all of the fish we consume) and the research being done concerning mercury levels (though it does seems that they are concluding eating is tuna is fine, as long as it is done in moderation, as with all things), I can’t stop myself from eating it. So this week’s recipes are a tribute to the versatile and easily accessible tuna.

This week’s recipes::

Tuna and Edamame Casserole

I find something really comforting about tuna casserole. It’s one of those warm, simple and filling dishes that make you feel at home. The dining hall only serves it every once in awhile, but make it yourself and you can have it any night you like, and even have the option of tossing in some new flavors that you wouldn’t expect.

1. Fill a pasta bowl with short pasta, such as farfalle (bow tie), conchiglie (shell), or fusili (corkscrew). Top it with one of the dining hall’s Alfredo sauces. (Go ahead and try something slightly to the right or left too, such as South’s Ranchero Alfredo sauce. It will give it a different taste, but a good one. You are looking for a creamy sauce.)

2. Add edamame (Boiled soy beans, for those of you who are unfamiliar. If you aren’t a fan, feel free to substitute with a vegetable like peas.), mushrooms and a cheese you like that matches with your pasta sauce (cheddar is pretty reliable) from the salad bar.

3. Mix ingredients together.

4. Heat it all in the microwave for about 45 seconds to soften the mushrooms, melt the cheese and get it all nice and hot.

5. Enjoy! This tuna casserole, of course, doesn’t get the benefits of that crusty top that comes from baking, but you’ll still get to enjoy the same melty inside. Serve it with some good bread.

Tuna and Cream Cheese Bagel

Tuna melts are one of my favorite quick meals. This is a spin on the basic idea, adding in cream cheese and putting it all on a bagel.     

1. Fill a bowl with tuna from the salad bar.

2. Pick up lettuce, tomato, slice of cheese (provolone or cheddar both work well) and a lemon wedge.

3. Toast a bagel.

4. Spread cream cheese onto both sides of the bagel.

5. Squeeze the lemon into the tuna; add a dash of pepper and mix.

6. Top one side of bagel with lettuce, tomato, cheese and tuna. Close it off with the other bagel. 

7. If you like, stick in the microwave for a few seconds to heat it all up.

Quick Tip

The dining hall provides a pretty good tuna salad all set to go. Make yourself a quick salad with spinach, red onion, cheese and olives, top it all off with a mound of tuna and you’re set to go. Or give in and go for the good old tuna sandwich – tuna, tomato, lettuce, cheese and whatever other condiments you enjoy (I like Dijon mustard.)

Have your own dining hall recipe? We would love to feature it! E-mail mfordice@nd.edu.

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Dining Hall Dish

Observer Scene | Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sitting in the dining hall with a copy of “Gourmet” magazine is probably never a great idea. Football weekend or not, the dining hall is never going to be on par with the best of the world’s restaurants and chefs. Still, I tried to stay content with my macaroni and cheese and look forward to the chance to try out some of the recipes found in its covers over the weekend and to what I might be able to create for this week’s column, always striving to create something new with what the dining hall hands us. This week we have our first non-sandwich entrée, so give it a try.

Shepherd’s Pie Full of vegetables, meat, and potatoes, this traditionally English dish is a meal all to itself. Since you have already covered most of the food groups it doesn’t need much of a side, but is good with something like cornbread. Of course, get it in a pub and it will probably be matched with a good beer, but you won’t find that in the dining hall. Fill a bowl with ground beef from the Mexican bar. (Shepherd’s Pie is frequently done with turkey as well; you can try this on the occasions the dining hall offers it.) Add in chopped onion (or sliced red onion, if that is all that is available, or you like the spicier flavor) and cooked vegetables. Carrots, peas and corn are the most common in this dish, but feel free to experiment with ingredients such as stewed tomatoes and red bell peppers. You can also choose things from the salad bar, but you might want to reheat the bowl if you don’t think it will be hot enough for your tastes. Mix together. Top with mashed potatoes and gravy. Some recipes add cheese to the top as well, try it!

Ice Cream CookieHow can we forget dessert? This recipe is so easy, I’d be surprised if half of you haven’t figured it out already, but it’s always a good one sure to fulfill your sweet tooth. Select two of you favorite cookies from the dessert bar. Fill a bowl with a good scoop of your favorite ice cream. Toss in some of your favorite mix-ins. Some good combinations: vanilla ice cream and caramel inside oatmeal-raison cookies, chocolate-chip cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream and hot fudge or peanut butter cookies with chocolate ice cream for that Reece’s effect. Heat up the cookies in the microwave.Fill the two cookies with your ice cream mixture and take a messy bite! (Or if you’re of the more delicate variety, go after it with a fork.)

Quick TipDon’t forget to mix up your drinks as well! Plenty of students walking around the dining hall have strange concoctions in their hands that we at least hope are tasty. It’s like when you were a kid making suicides in McDonald’s. Try mixing Sprite into your slushy to make it more fizzy, combining lemonade with cranberry juice or making a dining hall mocha by sweetening your coffee with hot chocolate.

Have your own dining hall recipe? We would love to feature it! E-mail mfordice@nd.edu. Thank you to Diana Jones for providing inspiration for the Shepherd’s Pie.

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Dining Hall Dish

Observer Scene | Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In having to feed thousands of students and visitors with very diverse tastes, the dining halls have a very difficult task. In order to offend none, it has to pull back some of its flavor punches. But that means there are plenty of good foundations that are hanging around, ready to be given a bit of pizzazz.It takes some creativity and a lot of walking around (some of these recipes are best not done at peak dining hall hours, you have to visit so many bars that sometimes its worth giving up and just picking up one of the dining hall’s creations, all set to go and, admit it, pretty tasty), but you can dress up the basics into something made just for you.

Egg Salad Sandwich…Only BetterThis is an easy way to take egg salad that is a bit bland and overly creamy and make it a little more sharp and savory. Fill a bowl with a dab of Dijon mustard, black or green olives to your taste, and enough of the dining hall’s prepared egg salad to fill your sandwich. Pick up bacon slices, spinach, and good sandwich bread.Rip up the bacon and add it to the bowl. Mix together the ingredients.Spread the egg salad mixture on bread and add in spinach.

Balsamic Vinaigrette over Greens and Oranges The vinegars and oils that the dining hall provides by the salad bars are a blessing in making various dishes, especially your own salad dressings. When you’re in a rush, a splash of one of these is enough to dress a salad if you’re tired of the usual offerings, but add in a couple of other ingredients and they become truly yummy. Adding honey and lemon to this dressing helps balance out the balsamic vinegar’s tang. Fill a bowl with enough balsamic vinegar to pour over your salad and a dab of honey.Pick up a lemon wedge. Layer a plate with greens. I recommend the mixed greens, romaine or spinach. Iceberg lettuce has been cultivated to remove ‘bitterness.’ It’s mostly water, thus nearly tasteless and of little nutritional value. Add oranges (mandarin if they have them, or grab an orange and peel it yourself), red onion, olives and crumbled feta. Squeeze the lemon into the vinegar and honey and then mix. Add salt and pepper. Pour over salad.

Quick TipAdd your own vegetables to dining hall pasta sauces. This will make the dish not only more interesting and colorful, but more healthy as well. If you like cooked vegetables, look at the lighter side bar. For uncooked vegetables, try the salad bar. Sometimes the Mexican bar offers a few things the others don’t as well.

Have your own dining hall recipe? We would love to feature it! E-mail mfordice@nd.edu.

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Dining Hall Dish

Observer Scene | Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oh, dining hall. Whether they frequent North or South, students have such a love/hate relationship with you. We can’t complain too much; you do offer quick, full-course meals that are tasty (relative to most dining halls), but a few weeks into the school year we long to see something new, or to have more control over what we get to taste each meal.

Well, we here at Scene believe there is more than meets the eye to the dining hall’s offerings, and have set out to see what we can create out of the ingredients that offered most every day. So stick with us, and let’s see what we can cook up.

This week’s recipes:

Red Wine Vinegar and Tomato Salad

1. Fill a bowl with red wine vinegar, a splash of olive oil, and a dollop of Dijon mustard. If you are in South, add a dash of Italian seasoning or oregano, to your taste.

2. Layer a plate with sliced tomatoes or tomato wedges and sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.

3. Pick up a lemon wedge.

4. Take your bowl and add in lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste. Mix into a dressing and pour over the tomatoes and cheese. Let sit while you make your sandwich.

Tuna-and-Bean Sandwich

1. Fill a bowl with black beans and a splash of olive oil. If you are in South, add some basil from the spice rack as well.

2. Fill another bowl with plain tuna, black olives, and red onion.

3. Pick up lemon wedges and some good sandwich bread.

4. Once you’re seated, take the first bowl and squeeze in the juice from a good size lemon wedge. Add salt and pepper. Mix it all together, smashing the beans so that it makes a spread. Spread on one side of the bread.

5. Take the second bowl and add lemon, salt, and pepper again, mixing. Layer on top of bean spread.  

6. Close up your sandwich and enjoy! Try dipping it in the dressing from the tomato salad above for a kick (or even mixing it straight into the spread), or adding some more of your favorite vegetables or a mild cheese, such as Provolone.

Quick Tip

In a rush? Try taking a bowl of chili or tortilla soup and adding your own red onion, cheese, sour cream, and fritos to make it a little more crisp and crunchy.

Contact Michelle Fordice at mfordice@nd.edu.