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Ancient Grains Star at University at Buffalo

Farro, khorasan and greenwheat freekeh among the ingredients in special recipe program.

Campus Dining & Shops at the University at Buffalo is now offering students a taste of the past, the way past, with a new selection of ancient grain entrées. Each week, Governors Dining Center and Crossroads Culinary Center features a main entrée that has been newly crafted by Executive Chef Neal Plazio, CEC, his culinary team and Alan Archer, CEC, corporate chef for Nestlé Professional and Minor’s.

“Ancient grains like farro, khorasan (recipe here) and greenwheat freekeh (recipe here)—these are emerging and UB is certainly leading the way in offering these to their students,” says Archer. “Working with the culinary team here at UB in developing these dishes really allows me to expand the versatility of the grains. Traditionally, these items have been viewed as a side dish, but now we’re moving them to the center of the plate.”

The first entrée introduced at a recent sampling night was Roman Road, which paired farro, barley and millet with artichokes, broccoli rabe, spinach, capers, pine nuts and fresh herbs, finished with a roasted garlic tomato broth.

Plazio and Archer have developed six flavor profiles: Mediterranean, Indian, Latin, Egyptian, Southwest Asian and a seasonal Fall Harvest. Inside each are several entrée concepts that incorporate various grains such as couscous, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgar and the aforementioned grains.

Jeff Brady, executive director for UB's campus dining, sees the grain entrée concept as a perfect fit in the residential dining centers. “Our students love variety—they love new, exciting dishes. The creations that Chef Alan and our team have developed really bring out the complex flavors of these ancient grains, plus they are an amazing vegetarian option—which so many students are looking for today.”

The UB culinary team has spent the last few weeks working with Archer to understand how to cook the grains properly. “Grains, while very delicious and nutritious, can often times be difficult to cook,” Archer notes. “Education on the cooking process and knowledge of the makeup of each grain is so vital.”

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