“If I have to eat tofu scrambler one more time, I’m going to vomit!” “This peanut butter and jelly cake has got to go!”
These are samples of the sort of comments often heard in the Saybrook Dining Hall. Students in the 11 residential colleges not fortunate enough to dine regularly on locally-picked arugula salads and organic lamb-and-feta patties often complain about the lack of appetizing meals in their dining halls. But instead of resigning themselves to eating cereal for dinner five nights a week, these non-Berkeleyite Yalies should take advantage of the resources dining halls offer to create culinary masterpieces.
Don’t look contemptuously at the microwave as a feeble machine to be used only when you’re in a hurry or for making popcorn. Embrace the appliance for its ability to turn mass-produced shredded mozzarella into a mouth-wateringly fragrant form of fromage.
Never again reluctantly place an overcooked hamburger on a stale bun as you wonder how many nights in a row you’ve depleted the dining hall’s supply of ketchup trying to infuse some taste in the sandwich. Incorporate the meats from the grill station into ethnic treats: use hot dog slices to create your own shawarma; mince hamburgers to make burritos. Layer your impromptu ground beef on squared tortillas with shredded cheese, drizzle on some salsa, and top with guacamole and sour cream for a delicious Mexican lasagna.
Stop whining about the low-quality iceberg lettuce you wouldn’t dare go near were it not drenched in ranch dressing. Use the larger leaves as the base for hand wraps. Slather on some hummus, roasted red peppers, and sun-kissed tomatoes for a taste of the Mediterranean in New Haven.
Even though we all can’t be in Berkeley, we all can eat well in Yale’s dining halls. All it takes is a little creativity, a willingness to try new things and the occasional magic touch on a George Foreman grill.
Mediterranean Lettuce Wraps
4 large leaves lettuce
8 tbsp hummus
2 cups roasted red peppers, sliced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
Olive oil, salt, pepper to taste
1. Select the four largest, healthiest looking leaves of lettuce at the sandwich bar. You won’t find them in the salad bar, where they’ll be chopped up. Stay away from leaves with holes in them or you’ll find yourself covered in hummus.
2. Spread 2 tbsp hummus on each leaf. Drizzle olive oil to taste.
3. Put 1/2 cup peppers and 1/4 cup tomatoes on each leaf. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
4. Gently wrap lettuce around contents.
Yield: Four lettuce wraps.
(For another tasty Mediterranean wrap, drizzle olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice over a mixture of diced cucumbers, tomatoes and black olives, and cubes of feta.)
3 tortillas (corn, flour, whole wheat, whatever you prefer)
2 hamburgers, minced (flash your prettiest smile and politely ask your grillmaster to prepare them ‘medium rare.’ If you’re lucky, you’ll get your burgers before all the texture and flavor has been cooked out of them.)
1 cup shredded cheese (preferably cheddar, but you gotta take what the salad bar gods give you.)
3 tbsp salsa (Berkeleyites can brag about their grass-fed burgers, but all 12 colleges get George’s Salsa made with organic tomatoes.)
2 tbsp guacamole (you might need to ask your sandwich station manager to bring this essential condiment out from storage. Trust me, they have it.)
1 tbsp sour cream
1. Cut three 4-by-4 inch squares, one from each tortilla.
2. Put minced meat from one hamburger on one tortilla square. Drizzle 1 tbsp salsa and 1/3 cup cheese on top of meat. Place another tortilla square on top of cheese.
3. Repeat step two for second tortilla square.
4. Place remaining cheese and salsa on top of third tortilla square.
5. Microwave 45 seconds or until top layer of cheese is completely melted.
6. Spread guacamole on top of lasagna.
7. Dollop sour cream on top of guacamole.
8. Garnish with shredded cheese.
Yield: One heaping piece so delicious, your friends will insist you make more for them.