We're well into week three here in the Bubble, and as we settle into our daily schedules certain activities have begun to lose their appeal. The novelty of the dining halls has worn off: Our excitement over the presence of cereal at every meal is gone, we've been the victim of replacement pasta after the macaroni and cheese runs out, we've figured out that Sunday night dinner is the worst — the list goes on. In the face of this mealtime malaise, we must tap into our culinary creativity and quite literally spice things up. Here are a few savory possibilities to inspire your inner chef:
[Note: All recipes below were created based on options at the Wu-Wilcox Dining Hall.]
"A Hum–must" — Lay six pita triangles on a plate. Place a dollop of hummus on each. Next, add a spoonful of wheat berry. Another option is a splash of olive oil. Pro-tip: Use a spoon to make a little crater in the hummus to hold the topping.
"Cherry Balm" — Scoop some cherry tomatoes into a bowl. (Cut the tomatoes in half for a juicier salad) Add a few spoonfuls of chickpeas. Splash on some balsamic vinaigrette until the mix is coated. Finish with a sprinkling of feta cheese, as desired.
Vegetarian: "The Garden" — Fill your plate with mixed greens. Add some sprouts, chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans. Scoop a bit of feta cheese into the mix. Garnish with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and add some color with golden raisins. Top it off with the delicious fine herb dressing.*Pescetarian option — How could I forget you guys? Sprinkle a bit of tuna into the salad or add the fish of the day.
Vegan: "Seitanic Celebration" — There is a great-looking patch of grass in front of Whitman College. Just kidding. Kind of. Fill up a bowl with pad thai from the salad bar. Add seitan, sunflower seeds and shredded carrots to taste.
Omnivore: "Classic Tuna Melt" — This one I cannot take credit for. It comes from a master sandwich chef, Kathryn Scott ’15. She has perfected the proportions, so for best results, follow to a “T” (for tabbouleh!). Begin with a slice of potato bread. Layer on one piece of provolone cheese. (Swiss is also a good option here) Next, add just enough tuna to cover the slice of cheese. Warning: Do not overdo it on the tuna. The result is far too much chicken of the sea per bite. Lay three slices of tomato on top of the tuna. At this point you have the opportunity for a little creativity, which can take the form of a few banana peppers or a dash of hot sauce. Top it off with one more slice of cheese and seal it with the second piece of potato bread. Wrap it up and let the grill work its magic for three to four minutes.
"Chicken Caesar Wrap" — Pre-made Caesar salad has been a fan favorite this year in the dining hall, and a nice variation to the quick and easy salad is a chicken Caesar wrap. To start, select either the spinach wrap or the wheat wrap. Once you have made your selection, make your way to the heaping platter of Caesar salad to the right of the sandwich station. You have two options here: Either choose from the top of the mound (pieces with a nice dressing-to-lettuce ratio) or from the depths of the platter (the lettuce is thoroughly saturated in dressing). [Editors' Note: Please, please, please put the tongs back on the plates, not on the salad mound, when you've finished. Literally nothing is more aggravating to certain editors-cum-dining-hall-workers than people who fail to do this despite the many, many signs.]
Pro-tip: If for some reason there is not any pre-made Caesar salad, do not despair. Head over to the salad bar and get your DIY on. A nice benefit is that you get to control the dressing-to-lettuce ratio. Also look for some Parmesan cheese to sprinkle into the mix. It is important to get enough salad to make a nice bed for your chicken.
At the grill, ask for two-three slices of chicken breast. Make sure you don’t spread the chicken and salad too thin because the result is not conducive to wrap rolling. Fold in the top and bottom of the tortilla and then fold the side over while scrunching in all the ingredients as you roll. If you are having a hard time visualizing this crucial maneuver, YouTube "wrap rolling" (yes, it is a thing). Take it as is or grill it up for an extra crunch!
Carnivore: "The Meateorite" — Can’t make it up to Hoagie Haven? Don’t feel like paying $10 for an overdose of cholesterol? Have no fear; with this final entree you can get all the gut-wrenching glory from our very own dining halls. It starts simply: Ask at the grill for a Philly Cheesesteak. Make your way to the sandwich station and slather some chipotle mayo on that monster. Be generous. If you feel ambitious, grab a bit of bacon or salami and bury it in your hoagie. Once you reach the desired level of carne, head back to the french fries and onion rings. Load up. Pro-tip: Cut the onion rings in half to streamline your hoagie. Don’t be afraid to really mash those fries and rings into the meat; the success of finishing this monstrosity depends upon your inability to discern what you are eating. You are done! Go get a start on your heart attack, and don’t forget a splash of hot sauce on the way out.
"Motivational Mocha" — If you have a long night ahead of you and need some artificial stimulation, grab a mug. Fill it with the dining hall’s finest roast and add one creamer. Head to the ice cream and take your pick of sweetener.
“I’m That Kid Who Works Out After Dinner” — Slice a banana or two into a bowl. Add some granola and Special K. Pour a bit of milk into the bowl, but be careful not to submerge the bananas and cereal. Drizzle some chocolate sauce on top, and voila; Your sweet tooth is satisfied, and you haven’t sabotaged your date with Dillon.
"Let Them Eat Cake ... and Ice Cream" — You are going to need a bowl for this one. Start with a bottom layer of cake. Keep the slice thin because there will be multiple layers to this tower. The next layer is ice cream. While you will have lots of options, I encourage you to select complementary flavors. In general, I believe if the cake is vanilla or has a fruit component, pair it with simple vanilla ice cream or strawberry. On the other hand, a chocolate-based cake goes well with chocolate ice cream or a coffee variation. (Java Chip shout out!) Place two to three scoops atop the cake and give it time to soften slightly — not enough to saturate the cake but enough to allow the flavors to bond. Continue layering cake and ice cream as desired. Pro-tip: Use a spoon to spread the ice cream out to ensure frozen delight in every bite! To eat, flip it onto a plate, marvel at your masterpiece and then enjoy!Next time you head to the dining hall, don’t despair at the sight of the same slightly ambiguous fish from the night before! Try out a few of these recipes and make your own. Together we can change the way we eat pre-made Caesar salad. Bon appetit!