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Oodles of Noodles

Sonja Kehr
Executive chef, CSC, CDM, CFPP
Bowling Green State University
Union Dining Services
Bowling Green, OH

"We serve cold pasta blends as an ingredient in entrèe noodle salads, and regularly stock and serve rice and buckwheat pastas as part of our ethnic cycle menus. We also offer hot noodle bowls made-to-order at a wok station.

"Some of our favorite ingredients for spicing up ordinary pasta dishes are blue cheese and smoked salmon (see recipes) added to alfredo sauce. Sundried tomato pieces and diced bacon can be added to a reduced cream sauce and topped with asaigo cheese. Another favorite: smoked bacon bits, diced onion and cracked pepper combined in a hot skillet and added to a prepared Alfredo sauce.

"Often we check the cooler inventory for small quantities of vegetables that can be sautèed and added to any tomato-based sauce to make a hearty vegetarian pasta sauce. This adds both color and nutrients to the dish."

Jill Bachelder
Office and Cafeteria Manager
MedCentral Health Systems
Mansfield, Ohio

"Patrons of our Central Line Cafe enjoy pasta—especially when it's featured in our monthly display cooking venue.

"One of their favorite events is Italian Day, with made-to-order Pasta Primavera and Bay Scallops in Tomato Vodka Sauce over Penne. Customers also enjoy the Asian Noodle Bowl, which was recently offered as part of an extensive Chinese New Year Menu.

"Guests can choose from an array of fresh vegetables including mung beans, nori, snow peas, matchstick carrots, bok choy, napa cabbage, lemon grass and fresh shiitake mushrooms. The veggies are then stir-fried and tossed with fresh udon noodles and finished with one of two homemade stocks—shiitake mushroom or shrimp (see recipes)."

Warren Casey
Foodservice Director
Franklin Community Schools Corp.
Franklin, IN.

"We tried offering some really kickedup authentic pasta dishes for a while but they ended up just sitting on the line. Elementary kids would take one look and ask, 'what did you do to the spaghetti?' So, we've tried to streamline things and boost participation by offering pasta bars in each of our elementary schools.

"We offer four or five different varieties of pasta and several sauces. Once kids get their hot pasta dish they can move on to the salad bar where we offer items with an Italian flair such as pepperoni, mozzarella and paremesan cheeses and breadsticks. At the middle school we have a food court concept with six stations, including a full pasta bar. There we offer stuffed ravioli, stuffed pasta shells, mostaccioli, fettuccini with grilled chicken, and penne with Alfredo.

"We also started an Asian concept that's going gang busters. We're in the middle of Indiana, so something like this is new and exciting for the students. The Asian dishes we offer—including Sweet and Sour Pork, General Tso Chicken, and Chicken Lo Mein—are fairly basic, but the kids love it."

Linda Adams
Registered Dietitian
University of California, Davis

"Our most unique use of pasta is our Orzo Frittata which is a casserette frittata, but with Orzo as an ingredient.

"We focus on properly cooked pastas tossed, just¯in-time, with a flavorful sauce. We've found that using different-shaped pasta helps keep dishes interesting. We use cavatappi, fusilli, and bucatini as well as more traditional shapes.

"We generally go through about 350 lbs. of pasta per day. One of our more interesting serving methods is Crazy Pasta Bar—a kind-of Mongolian-style wok where students-choose a bowl of veggies, sauce and different shapes of pasta and watch while the chef tosses it and heats it in a skillet for them. Another favorite is hot veggies over cool noodles, a change from traditional hot pasta dishes."

Craig Mombert
Executive Chef
Davidson College Dining Services
Vail Commons
Davidson, NC

"The low-starch craze hasn't hit our student population—they really tear through some pasta!

"We recently began offering noodle bars and the students really enjoy them, particularly the Oriental and Italian noodle bars. On the Italian bar, for example, we'll offer penne, spaghetti and fettuccini with classic sauces and toppings, such as meatballs, chicken, grilled vegetables and sausage. We also offer themed noodle bars with a Southwestern, New Orleans, or Caribbean flair.

"One of the students' favorite vegetarian dishes from the Oriental bar is Oriental Style Noodles made with rice noodles, vegetable stock, tofu, lime juice and cilantro (see recipes).

"We also offer a couple of different pasta entrèes on the menu each week including Spinach Orzo Pie, Southwestern Penne and Asparagus Lemon Pasta."

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