Crafting meatless dishes with big student appeal can be hit or miss. To find out what vegan dishes are striking a chord on campus, FoodService Director asked college operators to share some of their most popular vegan creations. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Creative curry
Students on the food advisory board at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, challenged dining staff to come up with a more exciting curry dish than the aloo potato curry that was currently being offered. In response, Operations Chef Cris Williams devised a tomato-mushroom curry made with onion, garlic, coconut milk and a variety of herbs and Indian spices, which is served with lemon and mustard seed basmati rice. The curry is available on Indian Wednesdays at the school’s vegan dining hall, where students are quick to let dining staff know if they notice that the dish isn’t available, chef and General Manager Matthew Ward says. “If it is not on the menu on a particular week, we are flooded with comment cards inquiring where the curry was.”
2. Korean-style tacos
In Los Angeles, one of Occidental College’s most popular vegan items is its Kogi and Spaghetti Squash Tacos. The Korean-style tacos are made with with eggplant, mushrooms, chili powder, Sriracha and spaghetti squash. Originally, the tacos included tofu; however, Occidental chefs decided to replace it with spaghetti squash, a move that was a hit with students.
3. Chicken-less salad sandwich
At Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C., students can enjoy meals at the school’s student-run plant-based cafe. One of its most popular dishes is The Dakota—a vegan version of a chicken salad sandwich (made with tofu), which was named after the student who requested it.
Photo credit: Warren Wilson College
4. Kale and Brussels sprouts salad
Students at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, can’t get enough of kale salads.
“We go through a ton of kale,” says Mary Lou Kennedy, executive director of dining and campus services, adding that the school’s kale and shaved Brussels sprouts salad with tahini-maple dressing is popular with omnivores and herbivores alike.
Photo credit: Bowdoin College
5. BBQ tempeh sandwich
Bowling Green State University’s BBQ tempeh sandwich was first introduced in its on-campus convenience stores, but due to its popularity, it’s now also offered at a vegan station inside one of the Bowling Green, Ohio, school’s dining halls. The dish stemmed from a collaboration between students and the school’s dietetics department in which students worked with the culinary team to develop the recipe. The sandwich contains oven-roasted tempeh tossed in the school’s housemade Memphis BBQ sauce and topped with a sweet-and-sour coleslaw.
6. Faux wings
Students at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles can enjoy faux chicken wings. The dish is served with a variety of sides such as roasted sweet potato with kale and red peppers, roasted vegetable-stuffed chayote squash, falafel and white or brown rice.
Photo credit: Loyola Marymount University