Students + Campus

12 dishes at UCLA that redefine ‘dorm food’

Recipes that UCLA chefs create for students sound, look and taste more like food from a trendy restaurant

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With recipes inspired by international cuisines and newly popular ingredients like spelt, kale and harissa, the recipes that UCLA chefs create for students sound, look and taste more like food from a trendy restaurant than from a college cafeteria. These are 12 examples recently on the menu.
 

1. North African-style honey-roasted chicken with Lebanese rice

North African-style honey-roasted chicken with Lebanese rice
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

This chicken has sweetness from the honey but also gets a zing from spicy harissa and savory chermoula marinade.
Location: Covel dining hall
 

2. Turkey, black bean and sweet potato taco

Turkey, black bean and sweet potato taco
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

This turkey, black bean and sweet potato taco garnished with a Swiss chard pesto is a far cry from some grade-school crunchy taco with ground beef. Add crumbly Cotija cheese, the subtle flavor from the jalapeños, and roasted pumpkin seeds and you can see why it’s so popular.
Location: Bruin Plate dining hall
 

3. Chunky apple oatmeal pancakes with mango-blueberry and apple-cranberry compotes

Chunky apple oatmeal pancake with compotes
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

Imagine ambling down to breakfast in pajama pants for these jammy pancakes, which show that the right food makes it worthwhile for a student to wake up before breakfast service ends.
Location: Bruin Plate
 

4. Tofu Caprese stacker

Tofu Caprese stacker
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

This student-approved spin on traditional Caprese includes a toasty crouton of bread and a hearty, healthy slice of tofu instead of cheese.
Location: Bruin Plate
 

5. Roasted carrot and apricot pita sandwich

Roasted carrot and apricot pita sandwich
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

A spread of lemony hummus adds protein and heft to this pita sandwich, and spicy harissa balances the sweet chewiness of dried apricots and raisins.
Location: Covel
 

6. Toasted rice-encrusted trout with coconut curried lentils

Toasted rice-encrusted trout with coconut curried lentils
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

The rice gives a healthy crunch to the trout, and French green lentils pack a punch with both a Thai red curry paste and a yellow curry spice blend.
Location: Bruin Plate
 

7. Veggie burger with black-bean garlic sauce with a side of shrimp chips

Veggie burger with black-bean garlic sauce with a side of shrimp chips
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

The grilled veggie burger gets an exotic upgrade from the savory mixture of Chinese-inspired black bean garlic sauce and a refreshing seasoned-cucumber garnish. Students can pick up a side of the light, crispy Banh Phuong Tom chips with a hint of shrimp flavor.
Location: Feast dining hall
 

8. Chipotle chicken, brown rice and avocado bowl with nopales and red beans

Chipotle chicken, brown rice and avocado bowl with nopales and red beans
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

Aromatic brown jasmine rice, slices of prickly pear nopales and red beans make a unique base for this bowl of chipotle-marinated chicken. Creamy avocado and a garlicky, Greek-yogurt cilantro dressing make this an unexpected bowl of comfort food.
Location: De Neve dining hall
 

9. Grilled Persian-style lamb chops on a bed of cooked spelt

Grilled Persian-style lamb chops on a bed of cooked spelt
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

A simple preparation for the rack-of-lamb — olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Za’atar seasoning and pepper — lets the lamb shine. Instead of a boring side of white rice, the chop rests on a bed of spelt, a nutty ancient grain.
Location: Bruin Plate
 

10. Polenta panzanella salad

Polenta panzanella salad
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

This twist on the traditional Italian bread-and-tomato salad replaces the croutons with sweet cornmeal polenta. Grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls, fresh basil, white balsamic vinegar and crisp cucumber make it another favorite.
Location: Covel
 

11. Moroccan-style salmon with whole wheat couscous

Moroccan-style salmon with whole wheat couscous
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

Cilantro and ras el hanout — a North African spice blend sometimes compared to garam masala — give this student favorite its unique flavor.
Location: Bruin Plate
 

12. Daal makhani with paneer and a side of yellow curry fries

Daal makhani with paneer and a side of yellow curry fries
Lynley Fleak/UCLA

Beans and lentils give this Indian stew a healthy dose of fiber, while the cream, butter and paneer make it irresistible. A smooth mash of Indian black lentils and red kidney beans is blended with tomatoes, chilies, onions, garam masala and other spices and garnished with cubes of the Indian cheese. A decadent student can also grab a side of Thai-inspired Man Farang Kaeng Kari — crispy fries tossed with yellow curry, Thai chili powder, and ground tamarind and coconut.
Location: Feast

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