When students leave for college, they might miss Mom’s lasagna or Dad’s Sunday morning pancakes. But the reverse is also true for UCLA students and alumni: On weekends home, or after graduating, Bruins request UCLA recipes.

And it’s because our food keeps getting better. The campus continues to improve ingredient sourcing, nutrition and the range of options, which means soups from scratch, heirloom grains, specialty dishes and many build-your-own choices — all scattered throughout UCLA dining halls, such as the Bruin Plate.

UCLA Dining Services’ Bruin Plate General Manager Guadalupe Morales mentioned the uptick in recipe requests to Peter Angelis, assistant vice chancellor of Housing and Hospitality Services. Angelis asked Al Ferrone, senior director of food and beverage, and Magyn Kydd, director of marketing, to put together a team — led by Ferrone and Lynley Fleak, recipe development coordinator — to collaborate on a cookbook of UCLA recipes. “It began with the idea to give back to the community and our students,” Executive Chef Joseph Martin says. “It’s the perfect transition into the next chapter.”

They began by testing hundreds of recipes in the UCLA arsenal for home kitchens (rather than the industrial-size kitchens that serve thousands of students and faculty at any given meal). Some recipes that made the cut: shrimp, quinoa and barley jambalaya; grilled za’atar lamb chops with roasted carrot and caramelized onion mash; and vegan lasagna with tofu ricotta. There are also twists on pantry staples, such as kale vinaigrette or pistachio butter. It is hard to believe these recipes emerged from a college dining hall, but that’s the point, as Martin explains: “We are a university, so I think it’s important that we teach the next generation how to eat a balanced meal.” The bison burger, which is also lower in fat than beef, has become a dining hall favorite. “We’re not just taking care of our students now, we’re thinking about 10 to 15 years from now, when they have families of their own.”

The Bruin Plate Cookbook is available at the UCLA Store ($34.95), with proceeds supporting organizations working to alleviate campus-related food insecurities. Based on the success of Bruin Plate, the team is considering another cookbook, this time with recipes from Plateia, the Luskin Conference Center’s restaurant, which is open to the public.

Bison Burger With Blackberries, Blue Cheese & Pickled Onions

A flavorful ground bison burger topped with juicy blackberries, pickled red onions
and crumbled blue cheese on a toasted slider bun.

6 burgers

5 tablespoons crumbled Maytag blue cheese, divided use
3 tablespoons low-fat Greek yogurt
½ pound ground bison meat
½ pound ground beef, 95% lean
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 whole-wheat slider buns
6 tablespoons pickled red onions
6 fresh blackberries, halved

Stir together 3 tablespoons blue cheese with the low-fat Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Chill in the refrigerator.

Mix together the ground bison meat, ground beef, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl to combine. Portion the meat mixture, using a 2-ounce scoop, and shape into 6 round patties, about ½ inch thick.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place the cut sides of the slider buns in the skillet and toast for 1–2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Place the bison patties in the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes. Flip the patties over, using a spatula, and cook for another 1–2 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 F.

To serve, place the bottom of a toasted slider bun on each serving plate. Add 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese spread to the bun. Place 1 bison patty on top and add 1 tablespoon pickled onions. Add 2 blackberry halves and sprinkle 1 teaspoon crumbled blue cheese over the top. Close with the top of the slider bun.