By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Staff Writer
We all love tasty treats, but as broke college students, a) we’re poor and/or can’t afford to go out to eat and b) we have no kitchen in our dorm room. Whoever allowed this contradiction to happen is some sort of sadist, but never fear! It’s time for… No Kitchen Required!
PEACHES AND RICOTTA WITH PROSCIUTTO NESTS
Peaches and ricotta are a classic Italian treat and as we’re reaching the end of peach season it’s the time to take advantage of this simple, easy nosh. The prosciutto nests counterbalance the sweetness of the peaches and honey and the creaminess of the ricotta.
The secret to this dish (along with many others) is fresh, high quality ingredients. Go on down to the Farmer’s Market today in George Sherman Union plaza and pick out a firm but juicy peach. A good way to pick a peach is with a smell and a squeeze: Pick up the peach and smell the area right by the stem. If it smells fresh and mildly sweet, then it’s most likely ripe. If the peach you’re smelling doesn’t have a scent, then it’s not ripe enough. If it smells very sweet, then it’s too ripe. To verify the ripeness of your peach, squeeze it gently. It should give a bit, but your fingers shouldn’t be able to break the skin or leave imprints in the flesh of the fruit. If you’re serving your peaches and ricotta to one other person, one peach will suffice. While you’re at the farmer’s market, try to pick out a small bottle of local honey – even if you don’t use all of your honey, it’s always nice to keep in your dorm.
Next, it’s crucial you pick up a nice ricotta. Ricotta, when it’s low-quality, ends up being very grainy and flavorless . Splurge on the good quality ricotta. Head over to the North End and visit any cheese shop there. If they make fresh ricotta in-house, pick up a smaller container. Award-winning Calabro ricotta is made in New England, it’s fairly inexpensive and it can even be found in certain Whole Foods if you want to skip the trip to the North End.
In terms of prosciutto, you can either skip this step (for the vegetarians and cost-effective folks out there) or head over to J. Pace & Son in the North End for unbelievable prosciutto. Trader Joe’s and Shaw’s also stocks tasty prosciutto, for those that want to stay within a college student’s budget.
From here, all that’s left is simple assembly. We’re going to give you a “choose-your-own-adventure”-type recipe from this point on.
Either you can keep your prosciutto raw or crisp it up in the microwave. If you prefer your prosciutto soft (and more malleable), keep the slices raw and lay pieces out like sheets. Rip the prosciutto into two separate strips and lay them crossed over one another, like a large plus sign. Otherwise, shape your prosciutto into small cups and put about three cups on one microwaveable plate. Microwave the prosciutto for 30 seconds to 1 minute until they are somewhat crispy. They might never be as crispy as you may like, but remember – this is renegade dorm kitchen pioneer cooking and sort of crispy is still better than the bacon they serve in Warren. Use a napkin to sop up any excess grease from the cups and lay the prosciutto out on a new plate. Cut the peaches into smaller slices and use a smaller spoon to dollop ricotta onto the prosciutto. Use a straw or coffee stirrer to add a drizzle of honey to your little canape cups. If your prosciutto is raw, wrap the peaches and ricotta in the parma ham, tying each of the four ends at the top. Serve immediately.
By Katie Doyle, Food Editor
After spending hours in the kitchen this break whipping up elaborate vegan dinners, I think I’m about cooked-out, so to speak. While I certainly can’t beat a week’s worth of homemade meals, it can be an exhaustive routine to maintain in college, especially when shopping on a budget and cooking in a cramped apartment.
Of course, as finals approach, I’ll be short on time, too. This makes nightly cooking even more of a hassle. For vegetarians, and vegans especially, putting together a quick-and-easy meal isn’t as mindless as it might be for an omnivore.
While boxed meals aren’t always the ideal option, frozen veggie burgers can be a reliable alternative. As the most obvious alternative to the ominvores’s hamburger, veggie burgers tend to be the first meat-free burgers that new vegetarians turn to when looking for an easy meal.
But veggie burgers can get boring after a while. However, herbivores who are pressed on resources can hold out hope. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to find a great veggie burger that will take just a few minutes to heat up, but taste like you spent all evening cooking it.
A trip to Trader Joe’s or Shaw’s will reveal all sorts of delectable meat-free burger ideas that might have previously escaped your eye. Here are some types of burgers to look out for next time you hit up the grocery store:
Black Bean Burgers
Black bean burgers are top on my list of favorite meat-free burgers, and have been for a while. They are zesty, with a flavorful Southwestern flair that beats any other meat substitute. Add a dollop of guacamole for a dinner that is absolutely delicious and surprisingly very healthy.
Although multiple brands make black bean burgers, I’m a fan of MorningStar, which you can find at almost any grocery store.
These go by many names in the grocery store—Chik’n patties, soy chicken cutlets, vegetarian chicken patties—but flavor tends to be pretty consistent, quite in line with the cliché, “It tastes like chicken.” Although I’m sure you’ve heard that line before, albeit in a different context, these imitation burgers actually do taste just like chicken. There’s a lot you can do with them, from the complex (vegetarian chicken parmesan) to the simple (just add a wheat bun and ketchup), and because of that, they will always have a place in my freezer.
Amy’s Kitchen, a company that sells natural and organic meat-free products, makes a great barbecue-style Texas burger. It has rich flavor, with a pinch of Southwestern spice. The texture is spot-on, too: not too “meaty,” but definitely heartier than the average veggie burger. I would recommend this to anyone willing to experiment with different types of meatless burgers!
MorningStar sells what they call Grillers. Let me warn you, though: if you aren’t down for an authentic hamburger taste, stay away. Although I’ve only tried the MorningStar variety, I found the burger to taste, well, very meaty. It wasn’t my thing. But if you’re looking for an imitation hamburger sans the meat, you’ll find yourself very pleased.
Same thing goes for vegetarian turkey burgers: they taste like turkey. Personally, I don’t like the turkey flavor, but beyond that, the texture of the burger didn’t seem quite right to me—a bit too chewy. Then again, I’ve only had real turkey once or twice in my life, years ago, so maybe I just don’t know what to expect. However, just like with the vegetarian hamburger, if you like the taste of the real meat, you’ll probably like the imitation turkey burger, too.
California Veggie Burgers
Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers have a following that sometimes strikes me as cult-like. People tend to love them, or they totaly hate them. I’m somewhere in the middle. The burgers are super-packed with veggies, but, I thought all the flavors must have got lost in translation somehow because I wasn’t a big fan of the taste.
Although those are the staples, I’ve recently even seen falafel burgers, mushroom burgers and Asian-style burgers in the frozen food aisles. MorningStar even makes a pizza burger with tomato and basil. As companies get more creative, though, more and more types of meat-free burgers keep popping up, so keep your eye open for all of them.