By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
Most U.S. schools don't worry about recipes for the food they serve: it arrives pre-cooked and frozen from industrial factories. All they have to do is re-heat it and put it out on a steam table.
Under their newly re-constituted meal service, schools in Boulder are serving food that fits the description "home made." Recipes come from a variety of sources: some originated in Berkeley, Calif.,where Ann Cooper and her business partner Beth Collins had their first experience replacing the standard re-heat scheme with meals cooked from scratch in a central kitchen. (They post numerous recipes on their website, Lunchbox.) Other new dishes are suggested by Cooper's staff of professional production chefs. And some of the new items appearing this year in Boulder cafeterias--sloppy joes, jicama slaw, baked potatoes stuffed with cheese and broccoli--were developed by students in a series of "iron chef" competitions.
Brandy Dreibelbis, formerly executive chef for Whole Foods in Boulder, now one of five district managers on the schools food service team, takes the lead in developing new recipes. She typically invites the food service staff to lunch to sample dishes under construction and then conducts tastings with the ultimate judges--the kids themselves. Lately she's been gearing up for the winter season with dishes incorporating hard squashes, such as delicate, butternut and spaghetti squash. She also plans to introduce lightly blanched broccoli and roasted potatoes to the system's salad bars. And last week she began working on a series of soups to take some of the chill off Boulder's snowy days ahead: butternut squash, broccoli-cheese, vegetable-rice, tortilla.
One of Dreibelbis' creations that was being served while I was in Boulder was a deep-dish vegetarian enchilada. It's one thing to come up with a recipe you can serve to a family or a group of friends. It's quite another to translate your culinary musings into a meal for thousands of kids that hits all the right notes. I thought the enchilada was inspired. And Dreibelbis, being a professional chef, also had a number of practical considerations she incorporated into this particular dish.
"We wanted to appeal to our Hispanic population and try something vegetarian other than tofu," said Dreibelbis. "I liked this recipe because it enables us to use several commodity products, such as corn, pinto beans, cheddar cheese, enchilada sauce, and diced tomatoes."
Note that it makes "one hotel pan," meaning enough to feed you and 50 of your friends.
Baked Veggie Enchiladas
2 T Veg Oil
10 oz Yellow Onion, diced
1 lb 6 oz Zucchini, diced
92 oz Pinto Beans
28 oz Diced Tomatoes
32 oz Corn
3 t Cumin
1 T Oregano
1 t Salt
36 Corn Tortillas (6”)
24 oz Enchilada Sauce
26 oz Salsa
1.25 lb Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the veggies are heated through.
Combine enchilada sauce and salsa together and set aside. Reserve 8 fl oz sauce for top layer.
Combine vegetable mix with cheese. Reserve 1 cup cheese for top layer.
The enchilada bake should be layer like lasagna:
Place 12 tortillas in pan. Top with half the vegetable/cheese mix and half the sauce. Repeat with one more layer of 12 tortillas, vegetable/cheese mix and sauce. Add final layer of 12 tortillas, top with remaining 8 fl oz sauce and then the 1 cup cheese. Cover with parchment and foil.
Bake casserole for about 30 minutes.
Remove foil and continue baking until casserole is bubbling around the edges and cheese is melted, about 10 more minutes