Adapting authenticity in Three Sisters Salad

three sisters salad

“Everyone is doing Thai in college dining,” says Patrick McElroy, campus executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University in St. Louis. So he set out to “push the envelope” on ethnic cuisine and offer Native American dishes—a move that had support from the American Indian Student Association. But McElroy didn’t realize the challenge ahead. “I wanted to maintain the integrity and tradition of the food, but there were very few recipes,” he says. “I had to do a lot of research.” To develop the menu, he enlisted the help of chef Nephi Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary Association. Craig helped McElroy adapt authentic preparations using indigenous ingredients such as the “three sisters” crops—squash, beans and corn—planted together by early North American tribes. The Three Sisters Salad is now a staple in Wash U’s dining program, which completes 18,000 to 22,000 transactions daily. 

recipe revamp circle chart

  1. The classic Three Sisters recipe calls for corn, beans and squash to be cooked in a soup or stew, along with onions, tomatoes and seasonings. McElroy transformed the ingredients into a composed salad to make a recurring menu item that could be served in any season. Frozen corn allows the salad to be replicated year-round.
  2. Along with butternut squash, McElroy incorporates roasted zucchini and yellow summer squash into the salad. Both are easy to prep and cook, he says, and they brighten up the dish. Dried red and navy beans are cooked in advance, blast-chilled and refrigerated to use as needed. McElroy sometimes varies the salad by using white, black or pinto beans, he says.
  3. The addition of cooked wheat berries is a modern twist that turns the dish into a more nutritionally balanced vegetarian item. McElroy updates and freshens the presentation with halved cherry tomatoes instead of chunks, and a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds. 

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources