Northwestern University texture enhancements

Published in Menu Strategies

Farro Salad

Farro Salad

Nut-laced butters and sauces and crispy tortilla strips are just a few of the texture and flavor enhancements chefs use at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

“Incorporating different textures creates a well-rounded dish,” says Joseph Burdi, executive chef of nuCuisine, the Sodexo foodservice program on campus.

One common technique is basting fish with melted butter, ground almonds and fresh rosemary as it sautés in the pan. “When the fish is plated, it has a sauce and a toasted nut crust,” says Burdi.

Another way to add a pleasing mouthfeel and flavor is with pesto sauces made with nuts. Burdi suggests mixing a pesto of chunky almonds, fresh ginger, cilantro and sesame oil to lend contrasting crunch and bright flavor to Asian noodles.

Tortillas become crispy, tasty salad garnishes when they are brushed with cardamom-flavored butter or extra virgin olive oil infused with oregano and garlic, cut into strips and baked.

As an alternative to the standard three-step breading for fish (flour, eggwash and bread crumbs), Burdi suggest a topping of flavored compound butter. Mix softened butter with chopped almonds and spices, roll it out in thin sheets that match the size of the fish fillet and freeze it. Just before serving a piece of cooked fish, top it with a frozen butter portion and flash-melt it under the salamander. “You end up with a fantastic crust and flavor,” Burdi says.

Menu Sampler: Northwestern University Dining

  • Cuban Black Beans simmered with onion, garlic, green pepper and cumin
  • Farro Salad with Garden Vegetables: crunchy heirloom farro wheat with crisp carrots, red peppers, tomatoes and fresh basil with red wine vinaigrette
  • Peruvian Beef & Potato Stew with jalapeno peppers, tomatoes and cilantro

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources